City wins $100,000 grant for skate, walking spots

Published 11:44 am Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Skateboarders will soon have a new place to practice and show off their skills.

Monday, the City of Vicksburg received a $100,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to build a 5,000-square-foot concrete skate park and rebuild the walking path at City Park.

City grants coordinator Marcia Weaver said the 72-by-70-foot skate park is expected to be completed in about 14 months. She said the city will provide a 20 percent match to the grant.

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Parks and recreation director Joe Graves said the skate park will be built in the left-hand corner of the fenced in playground/park pavilion area west of the city swimming pool.

He said the park had not been designed, pending meetings with skateboarders and city officials.

Weaver said the walking track, which is also inside the fenced area, will be replaced with a 6-foot-wide-1/4-mile track that will be redesigned to accommodate the skate park. The present asphalt walking track is partially covered with grass and winds around the fenced area.

She said checks with other cities that have skate parks, such as Tupelo and Oxford, indicated the park will not increase the city’s liability insurance costs.

The city applied for the grant to build the park in March in response to complaints from residents about skateboarders skating on the streets.

“This (the skate park) was one of the things that came up when I talked to kids about things they wanted to improve the quality of life,” Mayor Paul Winfield said. “They’re skating on the sidewalks, and that’s illegal. The park will give them a safe place to go and skate. I’m excited about this.”

“This will be another activity we can provide for the kids,” Graves said. “It will make things a lot safer for the kids and the public. Right now, the kids are skating downtown, and it’s not safe for them or the people who are shopping and going in and out of the shops.”

In a related matter, the board adopted a resolution establishing Mayor’s Awareness Committee for the Handicapped, which is required under the terms of the state grant.

In another matter, the board approved an agreement with Vicksburg Municipal Airport Director Curt Follmer, cutting from full to part time.

Follmer, who turns 65 on Oct. 1, said he requested the reduction, which restricts his hours to not more than 20 hours a week.

“There’s not enough activity to keep me busy fulltime,” he said. “I’m going to partially retire. I will qualify for Medicare and Social Security. This works out well for me and the city.”

“Curt has done a great job for us with the airport,” Winfield said. “He’s helped it grow and improve. This was a personal decision on his part. We’re glad he’s still going to work with us. It’s hard to find someone with his knowledge of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) rules and airport operations.”