Walking trails project will provide new experience for visitors, residents

Published 9:01 am Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday took another step toward making Vicksburg a desired location for visitors by approving an agreement with the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce Community Fund and the National Park Service for a $25,000 Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative grant to develop five walking trails in the downtown and historic districts.

“This grant agreement is to develop a series of five walking trails to traverse the downtown area, the historic districts and downtown neighborhoods,” said Bill Justice, Vicksburg National Military Park superintendent. “The trust project will benefit local residents, as it will provide health and fitness opportunities while at same time providing heritage walking tours that cover Vicksburg’s rich and diverse architecture and history.”

When completed, the walking trails will start from the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Depot on Levee Street and allow visitors to tour the city on foot, providing an opportunity to get a look at the city’s unique architecture and historic buildings they could never get by cruising the city in a car or tour bus.

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Downtown’s varied terrain of hills and dips can provide local walkers with a good workout.

“We’re excited. The trail head will be at the depot downtown, and we will have five different urban trails coming from the depot on different courses within the downtown neighborhoods,” Community Development Director Victor Grey-Lewis said. “I think this is going to be good for Vicksburg.”

Chamber officials also see the trails as a potential draw for retirees.

“I understand that walking has passed golf as an interest for retirees who may be looking at communities for retirement,” chamber executive director Jane Flowers said. “I’m so thankful that we have a Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce Community Fund to solicit these funds to help with such a worthwhile community project.”

The walking trails project has been on the drawing boards for more than a year, and it s very good example of cooperation between the city, the chamber and the National Parks Service to get the grant and agree on the plans for the project.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will provide $15,000 in in-kind work on the project and handle the bids for project contractors. The chamber’s community fund will serve as the financial agent for the funds.

But beyond the money and intergovernmental and private sector cooperation, the walking tracks are a blessing for Vicksburg, because it gives its residents an opportunity to explore and get to know their city better.