Jail site a concern, decision could have big impact

Published 7:03 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

Citizens, businesses and local organizations have every right to be concerned about the possibility of a new jail being located on Berryman Road. They expressed those concerns during a meeting Monday with the Warren County Board of Supervisors.

Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau chairman Bess Averett and Merit Health River Region CEO Ben Richaud also expressed their concern with the impact the jail facility could potentially have on this location as far as development.

The Berryman Road 50-acre tract is one of two the supervisors have targeted for the new jail facility and are in the process of assessing their value.

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The other location is off Highway 80.

By state law, the jail must be built within the county seat or within a reasonable proximity of the city limits. Both proposed sites are just outside the city limits of Vicksburg with the major difference being the Berryman Road location is much closer to city water and sewer.

Berryman Road is located off of Old U.S. Highway 80 and runs behind the Outlets at Vicksburg. According to information provided by the VCVB, at least 15.5 percent of hospitality revenue collected in the city comes from the area around the outlet mall.

Also located in the area are 25 percent of the city’s hotels and 12 percent of the city’s restaurants, including Billy’s Italian and McAllister Deli. That’s a lot of revenue.

The other site is a 47-acre property located off U.S. 80 and near the site of the former Pinewoods Motor Court.

But the biggest impact could be on the neighborhoods that border the potential jail site. These are the people who have to live near the jail and must also worry about how their property values could be impacted by the jail facility.

Bob Morrison, who spoke on behalf of the homeowner’s of Eastvillage, said the decision on the location of the new jail facility is one of the biggest the community has ever faced.

Eastvillage is located about a football field away from the Berryman Road tract.

Morrison and the residents of Eastvillage are not opposed to the much-needed jail but “have serious concerns about locating the jail here” for two reasons.

“The safety and security of their families and potential harm to property values,” Morrison said. “The simple fact is people just don’t want to live near a jail.”

We couldn’t agree more and are hopeful the Board of Supervisors take those concerns very seriously going forward in their decision to find a location for the new jail.