Kings community finally getting some development help

Published 7:55 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s decision to hire a consultant to help with the redevelopment of the Kings community could mean a better future for Kings.

The board last Friday approved a contract totaling $98,000 with Hawes Hill & Associates of Houston to help develop the plan, which according to the contract is expected to take up to six months to complete.

The plan is in two phases, the first is an examination of the community and a discussion potential plans for redevelopment. The second phase is the blueprint for the redevelopment.

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“We’re trying to do a study that will incorporate everything from just north of Haining Road all the way to the (U.S.) 61 North Bypass and North Washington (Street),” North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said. “That’s going to incorporate everything on the east and west sides of North Washington.”

Mayfield said he wants eventually to see some commercial growth in Kings, citing the need for a drug store and a general merchandise store in the community.

But there are some serious obstacles the city officials and the consultants will have to overcome as they go through the assessments, evaluations and plans for Kings. The major obstacle is flooding. The west side of the community is in a flood zone; that’s been proven during the periodic Mississippi River flooding. All of Kings went under in 2011, sections of it went under in the winter flood in January 2015, and earlier this year.

The entire area is subject to flash flooding during heavy rains, when runoff of water and soil overwhelm and clog the drainage culverts. Those will have to be addressed if any redevelopment plan is to be successful over the long term.

In 2017, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. dedicated $1 million toward improvements in the Kings community. Part of that allocation is being used to make up the match for $645,000 drainage project in Kings paid in part by a National Resources Conservation Service grant. The $1 million will also pay for the consultants.

For years, Kings community has been all but forgotten over the years and treated like a stepchild by prior administrations. The city’s decision to hire Hawes Hill to help with the redevelopment of Kings is hopefully a step in the right direction toward making Kings a viable community.