Let’s not let excitement, new ideas get ahead of ourselves
Published 2:22 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Downtown Vicksburg is on the fringe of something great.
Tourism numbers, with new and more riverboat dockings in downtown Vicksburg in 2020 than in 2019, are expected to rise as additional foot-traffic strolls off cruises and through downtown streets.
Events like Second Saturday offer new quality of life and entertainment to locals and tourists alike.
Buzz has been generated by new retail stores and restaurants opening. Magnolia Jewelers and The Daquiri Hub are already in operation and two restaurants, Roma and Relish, are working to open their doors to the public later this year. Cottonwood Public House has expanded by opening a rooftop bar used for special events, and little by little, vacancies are becoming less and less common as new businesses fill store windows and open up shop.
The excitement surrounding happenings downtown has many offering new ideas and proposing intriguing projects that will enhance and progress the great things already happening in that area of our city.
I share in the excitement of community members and officials who are offering these ideas. As a downtown resident, I hope many of these projects come to fruition, and as the publisher of this newspaper, I hope and expect The Post will play an integral role in announcing what’s to come to the public.
The heavy focus on what’s to come begs the question of what we are doing to maintain current community assets.
In July of 2005, the community buzzed with excitement as the Art Park at Catfish Row and splash pad opened to the public. And much like ideas and projects currently being discussed for downtown improvement, the park was part of a bond issue that helped fund the construction of the $2.8 million project.
The 70,000-square-foot-park had freshly painted decorative smokestacks that let off steam throughout the day, and the community was so excited about its opening that the public actually came out to enjoy the new community facility while construction workers put finishing touches on the park.
Since it’s opening, the park has received 62 reviews on the website TripAdvisor.com and a four-out-of-five-star rating. Positive reviews from locals and tourists alike praise the historic riverfront murals for telling Vicksburg’s story in an engaging way, the opportunity for children to enjoy the splash pad and the Junior Auxillary’s Art Park for Children, as well as the park’s incorporation of the Sprague, a record-setting towboat that was a downtown attraction until it burned in 1974, into its theme.
Negative reviews relate the park and its bathrooms as being dirty and strewn with litter. The pages of this newspaper related the same in 2012, and again in 2016 when the Board of Mayor and Aldermen instituted a 30-day trial plan to try to keep Catfish Row clean by rearranging the schedule of one community service crew that focused on picking up litter and debris.
Where is the park today? It is still battling some of its litter and cleanliness problems, and it continues to be a family-friendly and major community asset that appeals to both locals and tourists. Outside of the litter problem, paint on the decorative smokestacks has faded and is in need of a fresh coat.
Let’s hope excitement about new projects does not push needed maintenance of this park and other community assets to the wayside.
Catherine Boone Hadaway is publisher of The Vicksburg Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.