More info, accessibility expected at Riverfront|[08/25/2008]

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 25, 2008

When it reopens, perhaps next month, Riverfront Park will be more accessible and more informative.

The park, created in 1993 on a 16-acre shelf below Louisiana Circle, has had its playground and exercise equipment, pavilions and grills idle during most of the summer as renovations began, then stalled.

Now, a September opening is expected.

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A DirtWorks construction company project to add wheelchair ramps and finish an entrance pavilion came to a halt in late spring after the discovery of improperly installed drainage pipes.

“We’ve got that fixed now,” said Jeff Richardson, city landscape architect, adding that builders are working closely with Brandon-based architect Brent Holmes on a “punch list” of items pertaining to the complete project.

In addition to other changes, new signs will have information about wildlife common to the river.

The project is being funded by a $150,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, matching funds from Vicksburg and Warren County and an additional $20,000 donation from Mississippi Special Olympics.

The park, a former industrial and warehouse site, was grassed over and abandoned for decades. A Chamber of Commerce effort led to $15,000 in seed money followed by $50,000 in contributions from city and county governments to purchase about 11 acres just before casino development started north and south of the site. The balance of the land is provided to the public under a long-term lease by the owners of The Vicksburg Post.

City and county funds were used to develop the area, which normally is open during daylight hours.