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Exciting transformation in Downtown Vicksburg

In just about a week, one of Vicksburg’s most popular attractions, the spring farmers’ market, will open at the corner of Washington and Jackson streets.

Not long after, the city will dedicate a new multi use park at the same site.

The new park is the result of Mayor George Flaggs Jr.’s idea to make what was then a vacant lot into an attraction to bring more people downtown, and while the park’s final appearance is different from the multi-purpose complex with a pavilion the mayor imagined, it will provide a venue for various activities from the farmers’ market to spring concerts to outdoor movies.

The $150,000 park is an example of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen practicing what it preaches.

From Flaggs’ first administration and into the present term, he and the board have encouraged people to invest in the downtown area.

City officials have helped developers locate tax credits and approved tax abatements to encourage development downtown. Over the past six years, downtown has been transformed from lines of vacant buildings to restaurants, stores and apartments, creating a thriving commercial and residential area that is creating income for the city.

The new park provides one more attraction to the people living downtown to those who visit, whether they’re residents or tourists visiting the area. It will provide a place for people to walk for exercise, make the farmers’ market more accessible to people and provide a place for special programs to entertain, whether during holidays like the 4th of July, Memorial Day, or as an evening concert.

Looking back several years, it’s hard now to imagine that at one time that space now accented by sidewalks and a stage was once a vacant lot that became a muddy bog after a rain and a dust bowl during hot, dry summers. What was once an unsightly vacant lot is soon going to be a location for community programs and activities.

The board needs to be congratulated for having the foresight to support designing and building an urban park, and for showing that it is willing to more to encourage downtown development than talk.