Refurbished walking trail reopened at Vicksburg’s City Park

Published 10:10 am Friday, August 21, 2015

The walking trail at Vicksburg’s City Park has undergone a rebirth, and city officials hope it will influence people to get out, start walking and begin living healthier lives.

The 1/4-mile track dedicated Wednesday, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, was renovated and resurfaced through a $25,000 grant from My Brother’s Keeper, a private, nonprofit organization, with a mission to reduce health problems throughout the U.S. and promote healthy living and the use of accessible public facilities.

The ceremony included the presentation of a key to the city by Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to the My Brother’s Keeper representatives.

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“We’ve rolled out the red carpet for them,” Flaggs said. “What they’ve done is open the door of opportunity for our community to become more fit and raised their awareness with the enhancement of the walking trail.”

South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson, who oversees the city’s recreation programs, said the grant provided money to improve the trail that was unavailable in the city’s budget.

“Paving the trail was something we wanted to do, but sometimes the budget doesn’t always allow you to do those things,” Thompson said. “This was a great opportunity to get it done with 100 percent funding.

“I think it’s going to be a good amendment to City Park,” he said. “We have the pool, the playground and the skate park, (and) the city replaced the fencing last year. The next thing is to replace this pavilion.”

The walking trail winds around the skate park and between the pool and the park’s pavilion.

Until the completion of the skate park in 2013, the walking trail was an almost invisible feature of the park. Its pavement was cracked and broken, and grass and weeds were taking it over.

When the skate park was completed, the broken pavement was removed and a gravel surface replaced it.

Ladaryl Watkins, with My Brother’s Keeper, said the organization saw the walking trail as a project that could be funded through a partnership community health grant program with the Centers for Disease Control to help improve the overall health of people in communities.

“Warren County is one of our priority counties,” Watkins said. “Walking tracks are high on the list.

“This track was made of gravel. Who wants to walk on that? By paving it, hopefully attract more people to come in and walking and run.”

She said work began on the track in May and was completed in July.

The finished product received some good reviews by walkers, who toured the course before the ceremony.

“It’s nice,” Diane Martin said as she began a lap. “We usually walk other places and the (Vicksburg National) Military Park. This is our first time here.”

“We saw this in the paper; we came out here for the ribbon-cutting,” her walking partner, Maureen Corcoran, said. “We’re enjoying it.”

“We thought it would be interesting to try out the new trail and pick up information about health,” Martin said.

Leigh Strolis, another walker, was also negotiating the trail for the first time.

“We usually we go to the (military) park. It’s a nice change from the military park,” she said. “It’s a beautiful park.”

Businesswoman and fitness leader Linda Fondren, a member of the Mayor’s Health Council, said the park would provide parents who take their children to the pool or to play on the playground an activity to help them while their children play.

Before the trail’s improvement, she said, “they could not even walk. They had to just sit and watch them (their children). Now, they are able to get out and get some exercise.”

“This will be great for seniors,” Fondren said. “Seniors sometimes are in isolation at home, so seniors can come out as a group, they can come out here and meet their neighbors and get them out of the house. This about getting more people outdoors with their children, it’s one of the many improvements by the city of Vicksburg at the neighborhood parks we have.”

North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said the addition of the trail should bring more of the surrounding neighborhood to the park.

“This will be a great help to the overall area,” he said. “I think this area is going to be widely used in the future.”


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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