City, county at stalemate on Riverfront Park facilities

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 24, 2008

Add climate control to the list of possibilities for Riverfront Park once children are allowed to play on the equipment.

City officials approved $22,000 in changes this week allowing for restrooms equipped with central air and heat at the 16-acre riverside park below Louisiana Circle.

Warren County supervisors, who supply a $165,000 share to the park for maintenance and renovations, have reacted coolly but not officially on the request. Mayor Laurence Leyens referenced the city-run Art Park at Catfish Row in defending the concept.

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“It’s been very successful. Our intention is to move forward,” Leyens said, adding supervisors have not responded directly to the city’s request.

Playground equipment has been replaced, and new wheelchair ramps and an entrance pavilion are being constructed. Signs detailing wildlife common to the river will accompany the infrastructure upgrades. Drainage pipes have been one holdup on the project, causing several delays in its completion.

The city has worked closely with DirtWorks construction company and Brandon-based architect Brent Holmes on the park’s makeover.

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.

Budget figures show Vicksburg spent more than $377,000 for supplies and services to the park in fiscal 2007-08. Estimates for the city’s capital expenses at the park for the upcoming year are incomplete.

Abandoned for decades, the park was opened in 1993 and sits on acreage acquired by a combination of local tax dollars and seed money by the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce. The balance of the land is provided to the public under a long-term lease by the owners of The Vicksburg Post.

Another park, the Children’s Playground at Catfish Row, built in one week in April by volunteers with the Junior Auxiliary, is also closed to recreation. City officials have delayed indefinitely the playground’s opening until fencing and landscaping around the land’s perimeter can be completed.

The cost of the JA park reached about $200,000. A $5,000 contribution was put up by Warren County via an act of the Legislature. The splash fountain-themed Art Park cost $2.8 million, stemming from a portion of the $17.5 million municipal bond issue in 2001 for public works.


Contact Danny Berrett Jr. at