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Mayr: Plan needed for park restoration

Monika Mayr, the new superintendent of the Vicksburg National Military Park, speaks to the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce members Friday at Maxwell’s. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[11/13/04] The new superintendent of the Vicksburg National Military Park, with only six weeks in the job, has already had a success that will help visitors understand what led up to the Siege of Vicksburg.

Monika Mayr, who became head of the local park Sept. 1 succeeding Bill Nichols, spoke Friday to the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

She told the group that she’s already helped Friends of the Vicksburg Campaign and Historic Trail. The trail traces the advance of the Union Army down the Louisiana bank of the Mississippi River to its crossing near modern Port Gibson through the march to Jackson and then finally west to Vicksburg and the siege.

“The projects were already going and well- documented and well-written,” she said. “I was able to take one of them to the (National) Park Service people and come back with a $20,000 grant that will pass right on to the Friends of the Vicksburg Campaign Trail. They will develop a driving tour and brochure for people to experience that trail.

Mayr said she immediately got involved with the plans to restore the area around Railroad Redoubt which is located on the northern end of the park’s South Loop. They just finished the comment period for the project that generated considerable public comment.

“Clearly people are interested in what is going on in the park,” she said.

Through her involvement in the Railroad Redoubt project, Mayr said she saw a need for a comprehensive look at the park to develop a restoration plan, to determine what features were important to the siege and, with the community, prioritize the areas to be restored to the way they were in 1863.

“I think Gettysburg (National Military Park) is on a 15-year schedule,” Mayr said. “It will probably be a similar schedule here at Vicksburg.”

After congratulating the community for its efforts in securing Pemberton Headquarters as part of the local park, Mayr said some documentation of the structure and its history has been done to lead into repairs and furnishing the home. She added that she hopes there will be federal money to begin the work needed before the house can be opened to the public.

In response to a question from Paul Ingram, Mayr said his idea of a computerized model of the park as it was during the War Between the States could be a good idea, but the mandate from the U.S. Congress is to restore the park to the way it was in 1863.

A 3-D model could be a valuable interpretive tool in the future.