Move ahead, make Fisher Ferry a premier park

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 11, 2009

A rush of enthusiasm for a privatized, super-duper recreation complex in Vicksburg has apparently run head-on into the realities of the marketplace. Last week, principals in the Aquila Group told city officials the local investors will not be able to participate in development of the city’s Fisher Ferry Road site.

“Unforeseen economic downturns have forced Aquila, along with many other businesses, to re-evaluate their business model and potential funding sources,” said Kristi Pantin, vice president of marketing and procurement for the fledgling group.

The announcement didn’t dim the enthusiasm of South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman, a former recreation director. Nor should it.

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Having Vicksburg become a premier regional site for tournaments and running events of all types is a process well under way. And given the city’s resources, there’s simply no reason not to offer an even wider array of parks, ball fields and other amenities to the people who live here.

There are no two ways about it. Even in a sour national economy, quality-of-life amenities serve essential purposes in communities. Centers for activities now are the Junior Auxiliary playground, art park and mural area at City Front, Jackson Street Community Center, Halls Ferry Park and Riverfront Park. There are also ball fields at Mission Park and City Park.

The Fisher Ferry site has 200 undeveloped acres, about 50 of which are usable. Given a professionally prepared master development plan and a phased construction process, it could be the crown jewel of municipal recreation areas. It’s regrettable that Aquila can’t participate with private dollars at this time, but there’s no reason not to move steadily ahead in creating a new complex of which every citizen can be proud.