Plans for riverfront development need to include the entire community

Published 6:52 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The residents who attended Monday’s public presentation of the initial plans for remaking the Vicksburg Riverfront got a good taste of what may be planned for the area between Washington Street and the Mississippi River.

And although the plans presented by the architects from Eskew-Dumez-Ripple to the city’s Riverfront Commission and the residents who attended the presentation were very detailed and impressive, they were far from being the final word on the project.

As Jose Alvarez, principal member for Eskew-Dumez-Ripple, said, “This is a working plan; nothing is finished,” and the architects will take the comments and suggestions from Monday into consideration as they work toward a final concept.

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The Riverfront renovation is an ambitious plan and makes good use of the city’s hilly terrain downtown to help enhance not just the area along Levee Street, but the downtown area. It envisions an outdoor amphitheater and other improvements to an area that has been neglected for a long time.

But as the architects and several of the program’s participants pointed out, there are some challenges. One major consideration is the truck traffic between I-20 and the Port of Vicksburg and its industries on Haining Road. As one participant pointed out, Levee Street is the main access road to the Bungee facility, which handles grain. For the soybean and corn farmers in this area, being able to reach Bungee is vital if they want to get their grain shipped to other areas. The other 18-wheel traffic is also a major issue that will have to be addressed if the planners want to make riverfront more pedestrian friendly.

Another issue is parking. Under the plans for the amphitheater, the Depot Museum in the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Depot loses a parking area that is presently across the street from the depot. According to the plans shown Monday, the parking area inside the flood wall used by fishermen and hunters would either be reduced or eliminated, and may have to be relocated to another area along the river.

There is no argument that our riverfront needs to be improved.

The plans presented Monday can go a long way to doing that, but they need to be worked so everyone who uses the area, including the few businesses along Levee Street, can get the full benefit of the changes.