City will spend $28,000 on study for new ball field

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2004

[5/26/04]Engineers will be paid $28,000 to design a grading plan for Vicksburg’s new recreation complex an $18 million development off Fisher Ferry Road.

“Because of the nature of the project and the location, we thought it was in the city’s best interest to design a grading plan,” said South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman, former director of parks and recreation, and lead city official on the project.

The undeveloped 200 acres is west of St. Michael Catholic Church and south of Hamilton Heights subdivision. The grading plan will be drawn up by local engineering firm ABMB.

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The area is a major drainage corridor. City officials anticipate some flooding along the edges of the proposed complex, but plan to build any permanent structures above the 100-year flood plain.

The cost of the grading plan is in addition to the $325,000 paid for the land in September and the $26,500 paid for the preliminary plans, bringing the total cost to date to $379,500. The total budget for phase I of the complex is $1 million, coming from the $17.5 million bond issue in 2001.

The combined estimated cost for all phases of the plan, including 11 softball and eight baseball fields, a community center and nine soccer fields, is about $17.8 million.

Beauman said he expects the grading plan to take about four to six weeks and then the work can begin.

“Once we have the plan in hand we can go out there and start moving,” Beauman said.

Because of concerns about funding, the city plans to do much of the work for the first phase that will include four to six adult softball fields. Those fields will replace some fields at City Park that flood from an adjacent bayou and another at Halls Ferry Park. Other phases are to be built as funding becomes available.

Beauman said the adult softball fields will be done first because of a greater need.

“We’ve got to take care of the programs we already have and we are by far in the worst shape when it comes to adult softball,” Beauman said.

There are no city-maintained soccer fields in Vicksburg, and the local soccer organization hosts matches in Bovina. Those soccer fields are built in part on land owned by public schools and are maintained by Warren County.

Today, there are five city-maintained softball fields and eight for baseball. According to standards set out by the National Recreation and Parks Association, a city the size of Vicksburg needs at least five baseball, six softball and six soccer fields.

A new complex was first proposed 10 years ago. A bond issue in 1993 had been earmarked for the fields to be placed on public land already cleared and leveled near the Vicksburg Airport. That money was spent instead to build the $1.7 million pool complex at City Park.

In other matters, the city board:

Administered the oath of office to two new police officers, Daniel Thomas and James Whittington.

Awarded a $28,700 contract to Dillon Construction for painting the old portion of the Kings Community Center.

Approved a request for publication in the new image publication from the Chamber of Commerce.

Accepted a tax exemption request for $70,000 in improvements at Cooper Lighting.

Approved allocating $5,850 in matching funds for the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation for summer programs.

Approved payment of $1,388 to the Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport.

Adopted a right-of-way agreement with Ergon.

Authorized the City Clerk to publish a proposed franchise agreement with Sheffield Carriage Company for horse-drawn buggies in downtown.

Approved June advertisement from Main Street funds.

Accepted a recommendation from the Zoning Board of Appeals to amend the city ordinance to ban towers and antennas in the historic district.

Approved purchase orders for $79,000 for new air conditioners at the City Auditorium and $13,000 for a new pickup for the inspection department.

The city board will meet again at 10 a.m. June 7 at City Hall Annex.