Letter to the Editor: In support of Washington Street Park

Published 4:15 am Friday, October 8, 2021

Dear Editor,

Each morning on my daily commute I drive by Washington Street Park and think what a beautiful addition to downtown Vicksburg. 

I think about the many events, programs, farmers markets, firework shows, motorcycle shows, music performances, Christmas events, Second Saturdays that I have enjoyed on that lot. I also attempt to justify in my mind why the city would invest our community’s time and money to make this Park what it is today only to turn right around and destroy it. There simply is not another spot downtown that equals this lot’s appeal for outdoor event venues and gatherings. 

While the ship probably has already sailed in favor of condo development on this beautiful park, I sure hope the city has an alternative spot in mind. I also wonder why this spot for condos? There are plenty of blighted, vacant buildings and lots in the downtown area that could have been used for condos. Several come to mind in the immediate area of Washington Street Park; so why would the city choose to sell this beautiful park to a condo developer? I am sure from a mere financial standpoint, the tax revenue from such a development makes sense, but from a community standpoint, it makes zero sense that we invest almost $200,000 in improving this spot only to pull the plug on it so quickly.

Community development is vital to the success of our city; it is what makes people want to live here instead of commuting to work in Vicksburg but live elsewhere. Pre-COVID, our downtown really had a great vibe going. Yes, COVID knocked it to its knees but our city vibe is coming back, hopefully, bigger and better than ever. This park was completed not long before COVID, so it has never had a chance to reach its full potential as a community draw. Even with that, it has done pretty well in anchoring what events have made it downtown. Because of the selling of this park, we will never really know the ability this spot had in helping our community reach our downtown potential.

I personally have used this park annually to hold a Vintage Motorcycle Show. Of course, we didn’t have the show last year, but in 2019 we had about 100 antique motorcycles and hundreds of people on this lot. The park had recently been completed as it is today and most of the motorcycle entrants were from out of town. I can’t tell you how many people at this show were very vocal in complimenting the city, the beautiful park, our downtown restaurants and merchants for being a gem of the south. Mayor Flaggs welcomed the entrants that morning and I really believe there was a genuine interest and good feeling about our unique city. Many had never visited Vicksburg before and vowed to return and spend some time exploring. This year the Vintage Motorcycle Show is scheduled at this park for Saturday, Nov. 6. With the sale of this park coming, soon this will be the last show in downtown Vicksburg. There simply is not another area downtown large enough to host the motorcycles, people, band and spectators this event draws. Yes, there are other areas in Vicksburg that will suffice to host next year’s show, but they will not equal the venue that we had… and lost at Washington Street Park.

Sincerely,

Roger Harris

Vicksburg