Flaggs to tour Fisher Ferry property Monday

Published 12:17 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Mayor George Flaggs Jr. will do something Nov. 24 he has not done since being elected mayor —visit the city’s Fisher Ferry property.

“I have never been on the site,” he said Monday, adding North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield and City Attorney Nancy Thomas will accompany him on the tour.

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“I imagine Mr. Mayfield and Nancy know more about the site than they care to know,” he said. “They’re going to lead me around the site and we’re going to have some discussions about the site.”

Flaggs, who recently said the property might be considered as a possible site for a multipurpose recreation complex, announced his tour Monday morning before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a contract with Stantec Consultants to determine the feasibility and cost of building an access road either to U.S. 61 South or Dana Road. The study will be used to help determine whether Fisher Ferry can be considered as a site for a recreational complex.

The vote was 2-0. South Ward Aldermen Willis Thompson, who supports looking at the Fisher Ferry property, was out of town at a National League of Cities Conference.

Mayfield said the plan to examine Fisher Ferry is similar to a previous study, which he said was done about 15 years ago.

“We’re not re-inventing the wheel,” he said, “(but) you have to look at more than one ingress and egress if you’re going to the main road.”

Fisher Ferry’s consideration as a possible site for a recreation complex resurfaced as the ad hoc recreation committee appointed by the board in May continues its push for a recreation complex.

The committee, which was appointed to examine the condition of the city’s recreation programs and facilities, began considering a recreation complex at its first meeting and has since circulated petitions and established a website and Facebook page promoting a complex. The committee has not discussed possible sites for a complex, and is expected to present its report by the end of December.

“What the board is trying to do is (determine) if it’s (Fisher Ferry) not feasible, let’s know it now,” Thomas said. “There’s been a lot of money invested in that site, and if it is not where we want the complex to be, and if it is cost prohibitive, we need to know. That’s the purpose of the contract.”

“We have not made a decision (on a site),” Flaggs said. “We are just trying to study every option we can to make sure we make the best use of the taxpayer’s dollar. I’ve heard a whole lot of sites mentioned as options, but we have made no decisions. Anyone who says we’ve made a decision on a site is dead wrong.”

When the committee completes its report, he wants it presented at a public meeting at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

“I want this whole process to be transparent,” he said. “I want it to be at a public meeting so that when we get it, they (the public) get it.”

If a recreation complex is recommended, he said, a finance committee and a site selection committee will be named to find the best location and look at alternatives to finance the complex. He said the board would also discuss financing with state officials, adding the public will be informed of the process of finding a site and how to pay for it.

“I know when we go to the Legislature, they’re going to want us to go to the people with a referendum,” he said. “If in fact, we have to put it before the people, we might as well let them decide on the site, and that way, we’re out of it. Like I tell some legislators, ‘I didn’t birth this baby, I just rock it.”

The city bought the 200-acre Fisher Ferry property in 2003 for $325,000. It acquired a wetlands permit in 2009 when it began developing the site just north of St. Michael Catholic Church as a sports complex. It abandoned the project later that year after spending $2.7 million on dirt work. In 2012, the city spent an additional $85,000 to remove the concrete in the drainage chutes and replace it with riprap and grout under a mandate from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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