SURRATT: Campground interesting addition to sports complex

Published 4:00 am Friday, July 29, 2022

Of all the things ever rumored about the city’s Fisher Ferry property, I don’t think a campground was ever envisioned.

When I saw the item, “Authorize the mayor to execute a memorandum of understanding between the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and the RRM-CLM Services dba Vista Recreation for the Development of cabins and campground,” I did a double-take and pulled up the attachment to read the agreement that discussed 90 acres of city-owned property off Fisher Ferry Road. I also began looking at past stories.

When the city bought the land in 2003, its planned use was for a sports complex. When that plan went dormant, other uses were considered such as a jail site, a possible location for a branch of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center and then back to a sports complex with the potential for a water park in the future. I don’t ever recall a great stampede of people demanding a campground on the site. For one thing, it didn’t make sense, especially since the property was adjacent to Hatcher Bayou, which in the past had a bad reputation for flooding in heavy rains, and part of it was in a flood zone.

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And while recreation is considered, nay, recommended, for flood zone areas, no one wants to wake up to find their sleeping bag floating downstream.

When Sports Force agreed to build a sports complex on the property, I wondered how they would approach the flood zone problem and they solved it by building on land outside the zone. Sports Force made good use of the property they had, developing a complex that has become a financial engine for the city.

Now, the city wants to make the remaining open land — or some of it — on its Fisher Ferry property profitable, too, by adding cabins and RV facilities. When you think about it, it doesn’t sound too bad.

Ward 2 Alderman Alex Monsour is correct when he discusses the lack of hotel room capacity to at times accommodate the players and families participating in Sport Force tournaments. Cabins would help ease some of the pressure on the hotels and might be a bigger draw. They may give tournament participants and fans a little more room to spread out — almost like home. It also means folks could get more rest between games during tournaments.

Having RV hook-ups would be a similar attraction, especially if it puts families and players closer to the action.

From what Monsour said, Vista Recreation has selected a potential site for its campground away from the flood zone. For its part, the city will provide utility service and build a road to the campground. The utilities will be extended from existing lines at Sports Force.

Since its official opening in 2019, Sports Force on the Mississippi has proven to be a good investment for the city. Now the Board of Mayor and Aldermen want to enhance it by providing a site where people attending the events at the sports complex can stay close by.

The city’s goal is to make the sports complex site as versatile as possible, making it and Vicksburg a destination. The campground sounds like a good idea, but only time will tell if it enjoys the success Sports Force has had.

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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