GETTING A MAKEOVER: Downtown parking garages to get new lighting signage

Published 9:41 am Friday, July 24, 2015

FACELIFT: The parking structures on Mulberry Street will soon have new lighting and a fresh coat of paint and striping.

FACELIFT: The parking structures on Mulberry Street will soon have new lighting and a fresh coat of paint and striping.

Thursday, Vicksburg Main Street program Executive Director Kim Hopkins discussed plans to make renovations to the parking garages downtown.

“With all the new businesses and the growth of downtown, we’ve had so many new tourists and locals coming downtown, that our parking demand has increased,” Hopkins said.

Friday, an electrical engineering firm will be hired to make a design plan for the garage. The plan will include an upgrade to the lighting as well as security cameras.

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“Right now a lot of the lights don’t work and the fixtures don’t work, and there is no wiring, or the wiring’s real old,” Jeff Richardson the city’s landscape architect said. “So we’re looking at upgrading, and have really good lighting on all the levels and make sure all the service and everything is proper and up to date because it was built in the early ’80s, late ’70s.”

Once the plan is made, they will advertise for contractors to bid for the project. They hope to be able to start advertising by the beginning of the fiscal year, Oct. 1.

The board also discussed new mirrors that have already been ordered by the city to place inside the parking garage to make seeing easier for drivers. Hopkins said the mirrors should go up as soon as they come in.

“We just need to get the lights up, and cameras up, and the mirrors, and that will help, and just try to make the parking garages more attractive and friendly,” Hopkins said.

The parking decks are important to downtown because of their access to Washington Street. The street’s parking fills up quickly, but the garages lend ample parking and therefore would benefit from being maintained she said.

“If you park in the top floor, it’s really easy to get to downtown just park on the top floor and walk across the walkway,” Hopkins said.

Proofs of new green signs that will indicate the downtown parking garages’ entrances on Mulberry Street and South Street were shown to board members.

Eventually, five signs will be posted in various places downtown. First they have to get approval from the Traffic Department. They will re-evaluate and nail down the locations once the signs are approved and ordered. Hopkins thinks they can get the signs posted in 3 weeks.

Before the lighting renovations take place, Richardson said they are working on the water system to make sure it all works properly. Once that is complete, they will clean out the garage and restripe the parking lines. There is no time frame for the completion of this work, but they hope to get it done in the next two months.

As for other renovations, Hopkins hopes down the line they can continue painting the white walls of the garages a taupe color. The project started last year with volunteers and donated paint. Hopkins said she wants to see it completed but it is too soon to know if it will be by more volunteers or outside help.

Aside from the upgrades to the parking deck, a number of other topics were discussed at Thursday’s board of directors meeting.

Hopkins put forth a new 2016 budget because Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs, Jr. asked everyone to cut their budgets by 3 percent. With the 3 percent decrease, Main Street will loose $1,311.30 from their original projected 2016 budget. She still hopes to get her original budget approved.

Vicksburg’s Main Street program is looking for national exposure through the Great American Main Street Awards. Hopkins and the board or directors are working together to submit essays on working, playing, living and visiting Vicksburg. Historic preservation and the impact of Main Street are also important topics covered in the extensive application. The application is due next week and winners will be notified in October.

The National Main Street Center, Inc. has offered the award since 1995 with a two-year hiatus in 2007-2008. Originally they chose five winners every year, but since 2013 there have only been three winners per year. This is the first year Vicksburg has chosen to enter.

Registration is now open for the 6th Annual Bricks and Spokes bike ride on Sat. Oct. 3 at 8 a.m. The ride offers a 10, 30, 50 and 62-mile bike ride across the Old Mississippi River Bridge. It is the only bike ride in Vicksburg, and all types of bicycles and all ages are welcome. The first 200 registrants receive a Polar Insulated Water Bottle.