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Opinion: Plans for Vicksburg’s riverfront remain crucial to city’s future

Over the years, we have urged city leadership at different times to focus on riverfront development. We have asked for comprehensive plans for how and when the current and historic epicenter of Vicksburg could be brought along.

We have seen the city in recent years take that idea seriously, breathing new life into the riverfront redevelopment committee, which put together proposals for what was needed for a more developed, more attractive riverfront. There was even the how, leading to the development of cost projections for new construction projects and enhancements.

But at a time when the pandemic has crept its way into every part of our lives, it is our hope that this ever-important topic — riverfront redevelopment — does not become another victim to the pandemic and the budgetary shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 virus.

There will be a point and time when the pandemic will be behind us; a time when COVID-19 is managed and controlled much like the flu and no longer feared. But what will remain, what is a constant, is the importance of the Mississippi River and the Yazoo Diversion Canal  to Vicksburg.

Even though we do not know when, cruises will return to the river, bringing thousands of visitors each year to the city. There will be new cruise lines and new avenues for visitors to come and experience our city. What we cannot do is forget or put to the side plans to make that experience, that front door to our city, better.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has talked about ways to fund many of the projects that were drawn up, but it is understandable in times like these for those plans to be on hold. We know there are probably more pressing needs. But, the money spent on the riverfront and the immediate surrounding areas of downtown are an investment in Vicksburg’s future.

The money spent will provide a return on that investment in the way of additional tourism dollars, jobs, and additional private investment and development.

The pandemic might have pushed future plans to the back burner, but it is our hope those burners are still lit and cooking up a future we all hope and expect for Vicksburg.