Kings community study, plan ‘won’t drag’

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Representatives of a Houston, Texas, consulting firm hired by the city to evaluate and develop a community and economic development plan for the Kings community visited the community Monday and Tuesday, taking time to answer residents’ questions, North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said.

“This is the first phase of their assessment,” Mayfield said. “They (the residents) are very anxious to get something done; they want to make sure that it’s not dragged out and we can get where we’re going in a hurry and get some things done.”

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Some of the residents’ concerns, he said, involved recreation, with people wanting a pavilion built in the community, and a baseball field built in some of the floodplain area on the west side of North Washington. Recreation is one of the recommended uses of property in a floodplain. They also discussed historic markers and slide and drainage problems in the area.

“You saw the anxiety (in the residents’ faces) because they want something done,” he said.

Mayfield said the representatives from Hawes Hill & Associates of Houston discussed preliminary findings from a previous visit to the area. He said the consultants told the group they would not let the project drag.

He said the consultants also said they were looking at land on the east side of North Washington possibly for housing or other development.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen in August approved a contract totaling $98,000 with Hawes Hill & Associates to develop a plan for Kings, which according to the contract, is expected to take up to six months to complete.

Mayfield said at the time the study will incorporate everything from just north of Haining Road all the way to the U.S. 61 North Bypass and North Washington Street and incorporate everything on the east and west sides of North Washington.

The study will look at housing, infrastructure and recreational facilities. He said the city will have to look at drainage and work with the Kansas City Southern Railroad to establish drainage districts.

The project will be split into two phases, with the first phase costing $27,500, and the second phase, if the board decides to continue the project, costing $70,500. The cost will be paid from $1 million in capital improvement bond money set aside for Kings by Mayor George Flaggs Jr. in 2017 to help fund improvements in the community.

According to the contract, the first phase of the project will be a community assessment and concept plan, where Hawes Hill representatives will make a three-day visit to examine the Kings community, its character and condition, and discuss working concepts for redeveloping Kings. The visit includes meeting with city officials and area business and community leaders.

After the visit, the company will prepare a community assessment and concept plan memorandum based on the visit to Kings and Vicksburg.

The second phase includes recommendations and plans for physical and economic development with an action and finance plan.

The completed plan will be published in bound copies, and a digital version will be given to city officials.

Flaggs earmarked $1 million for Kings shortly after beginning his second term in July 2017.

About $150,002 of that money is being used to cover the city’s share of an estimated $645,010 project to improve drainage in Kings. The remainder is covered by a $495,008 National Resources Conservation Service grant.

“They don’t want this money (for the study) to sit there and then be worth nothing when it comes time to do something,” Mayfield said, adding the Board of Mayor and Aldermen have indicated they will not allow the study to drag out.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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