Capitol improvements need prioritizing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 28, 2015

The City of Vicksburg will soon begin selling bonds to finance $18 million in capitol improvements. The projects will be divided into two phases, so as to not overburden the city with loans.

“I believe this is the most progressive thing that this city has done in, I’d say, the last eight years, based upon the history of what they’ve spent money on in the past” North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said. “That’s not to belittle any other administration in the past. I’m just saying we’re at this point where if we want to compete, we want to improve, we have to do these type things.

The city has been plagued with failing infrastructure over the past few years and is currently working to repair a broken water line at Bowmar Avenue and Letitia Street.

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“A lot of thought has gone into this $18 million in capital improvements for the city of Vicksburg,” “This is the first time this board will be able to go out and make some significant improvements to the infrastructure,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

The board will sell the bonds in May and get the money in late June. Work on the first set of projects is expected to begin soon after the funds are received.

The list of projects set for the first phase include:

• Street paving, $4.6 million: The project will be done in two phases in the North and South wards.

In a related matter Wednesday, the board approved contracts with AJA Management and Technical Services of Jackson to prepare the engineering and design for paving projects in the South Ward, and Stantec to do the engineering and design for paving work in the North Ward.

The board in January approved a $143,500 contract with Applied Research Associates Inc. of Champaign, Ill., to do a street survey, which will be used to develop a priority list for street paving in the future.

• Parking lot improvements, $1.15 million: The work includes resurfacing parking lots at Riverfront Park, Halls Ferry Park, the roads in Cedar Hill Cemetery, the parking lots at the baseball and girls softball fields at Bazinsky Park, and the city-owned parking lot at Catfish Row.

• Recreation, $1.3 million: The projects include renovations to the City Park Pavilion, $350,000; building a farmers’ market pavilion and improvements, $550,000; Kings playground, $100,000; and improvements totaling $300,000 to neighborhood parks and Riverfront Park.

• Municipal buildings, $2.25 million: Projects include a new fire station, $1.6 million; repairs to City Hall’s exterior, $375,000; and replacing carpet and tile at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

The board in February approved a contract with the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District to perform needs assessment to determine if the locations of the city’s fire departments meet the city’s needs based on the Mississippi Fire Rating Bureau criteria and to recommend a location for the new station.

Much needed repairs to the city’s water and sewer lines are missing from the list.

The bulk of Vicksburg’s water and sewer system is over 100 years old, Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman said, adding that with the exception of fire hydrants, the water lines in the city’s downtown area were installed in the 1900s.

Is paving before replacing water and sewer lines putting the cart before the horse? Do we need to pave the streets when the ground beneath them is washing away?