New convention center roof is major development after years of neglect

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 27, 2015

After 18 years the Vicksburg Convention Center is getting a new roof.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Friday authorized City Clerk Walter Osborne to advertise for bids to replace the roof and repair other problems at the building.

That may not seem like a big deal, but considering the role the convention center plays in attracting business and tourism to the city, it’s major news.

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You see, in the 18 years since the convention center opened, that roof, despite problems over the years with leaks, has never been replaced. Previous administrations have repaired it many times, and as Sammie Rainey, the city’s building maintenance supervisor said in May, “You can only repair a roof so much. It can’t be patched any more.”

That prior neglect is now coming back to haunt the city, and the preliminary estimated cost of fixing the problem is almost $1 million.

Leaks caused using a Band-aid approach rather than spending the money to replace the roof and repair other problems are prominent in the building. The roof leaks on the northwest and southwest corners of the building. There is another problem on the building’s south side, where the convention center’s elevator and escalator are located. Two years ago, the city had to repair the escalator because of water damage from a leak.

According to a report from JH&H Architects, which was hired in May by the city to examine the roof, there were places on the roof where the flashing, sheet metal used in waterproofing the roof, was either improperly installed or not installed at all. The report also indicated the roof drains need to be replaced, the heating and air conditioning units need to be elevated to provide the correct clearance for roof drains and condensation lines flashing need to be installed on the building’s high and low roofs.

Windows and sills on the south, west and northwest walls and the building’s entrance on Mulberry Street need to be replaced.

The total cost? The JH&H report puts that at $919,000. The city has $1 million in one-time money left from a 2007 bond issue set aside for the work.

These are problems that have been going on for a long time and issues previous convention center officials have brought to the attention of the prior boards.

The convention center is one of the city’s major attractions. It is home to the Miss Mississippi Pageant, the venue for many local programs and entertainment programs attended not only by residents here but by people from around the surrounding area. It is the venue for conventions and business meetings.

It hosted the national Alcorn State Alumni Association Convention and is home to the annual Alcorn State University Jazz Festival. Soon, it will host the Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

For many, it is the gateway to Vicksburg and its attractions, and it is a shame that such an asset has been allowed to fall on hard times.

The board deserves a pat on the back for taking the initiative and getting these problems fixed.