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City takes action to address slide issues, including fixing Riverfront Park

The city of Vicksburg is borrowing up to $4 million to repair slide areas caused by heavy rains in January and April 2020.

The board last week approved a resolution to borrow the money in anticipation of federal and state grants so it can begin taking steps to start repairing the slide damage in different areas of town.

“I don’t think we’ll need that much ($4 million), but just in case,” City Attorney Nancy Thomas said.

Accounting Director Doug Whittington said the loan is a short-term loan. “This is for us to move forward (with repairs),” he said.

The city has applied for emergency grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to repair erosion problems caused by the heavy rains.

Preliminary estimates have put the cost of repairs at $2.5 million, pending completion of the engineering and designs for the projects. The city has hired three engineering firms to each take several projects.

The FEMA grant covers 75 percent of the city’s eligible costs for the repairs and is a reimbursement grant, meaning the city pays for the work and is reimbursed by FEMA. The MEMA grant pays 12.5 percent of the city’s 25 percent match under the FEMA grant and acts as the agent for the FEMA grant.

“As soon as we get FEMA and MEMA reimbursement, we’ve got to turn right around and pay that note,” Whittington said.

The city has seven areas affected by landslides: Riverfront Park, James E. Sturgis Sr. Street, Crestline Lane (street), Greenhill, Clover Lane, Farmer Street, a culvert on Crestline Lane and a culvert near the intersection of Iowa Boulevard and U.S. 61 South near McDonald’s.

Severe erosion damage at two areas along the riverbank has affected the walking trail and threatens other areas at Riverfront Park, the city’s most-used park. The damage forced the city to close it in April 2020. There are also two slide areas on the eastern side of the park that partially cover sections of the park’s road.

Part of the match for the Riverfront Park repairs will be paid by Warren County, which shares the maintenance costs of the park with the city.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. expressed concerns about repairs to James E. Stirgus Sr. Street, where slides have eaten away at the street’s curb.

“That project is bigger than it looks, because from my understanding to be able to fix that street they may have to get easements,” he said, explaining contractors would have to approach the area from the lower of the hill on which the street sits.

“It’s not the money; it’s just the complication of that project.”

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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