Work closes Catfish Row’s play areas

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The splash fountain at Catfish Row will be closed for six weeks so a rubber mat can be installed around the fountain area. Vicksburg’s mayor and aldermen are set to open bids for the safer play surface at their meeting on Sept. 10, and work will begin shortly thereafter.

“Once that happens we’ll close down the whole thing,” said Landscaping Director Jeff Richardson, referring to the fountain and the nearby Children’s Playground at Catfish Row, which is also to have a piece of rubber surface installed.

The fountain closed on Monday, but the playground will likely be open through next week, said Richardson

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“I’m hoping we can be completely out of there by mid-October,” he said.

Along with closing the fountain on Monday, city crews removed six cypress trees where the rubber surface is to be installed near the fountain, as well as several nearby locust trees in the park.

“They were supposed to be thornless honey locusts, but some grew thorns,” Richardson said. “So, we took out all the ones with thorns and we’ll be replacing them with thornless trees.”

One of two large hackberry trees near the fountain will also be removed. The tree is rotting in several places, and the majority of its bark is missing or flaking off.

“It’s dying,” said Richardson. “It was an old tree and it was in OK shape after construction (of Catfish Row in 2004-05), but the stress didn’t help at all and it’s been in steady decline ever since.”

The Art Park at Catfish Row and splash fountain cost $2.8 million to design and build, and was opened in July 2005. Funding for the project came out of a $17.5 million bond issue in 2001 aimed at downtown redevelopment and beautification.

The playground, built and paid for by the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and its supporters on land donated by the city, opened last fall. Most of the playground already has a rubber surface, said Richardson, but a portion in the rear still needs to be installed.


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