City of Vicksburg seeking state delegation’s help with Riverfront Park property swap

Published 12:34 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. is seeking help from Mississippi’s Congressional Delegation to get National Park Service approval for a site for the proposed new Riverfront Park.

The Golding family donated the 5.5-acre tract east of the Golding Barge Lines office to the city to use as a park after the city and county closed the former Riverfront Park because it was not feasible to repair the multiple slide areas in the park that occurred after a series of heavy rains in February 2020.

Because the former park was developed with federal Land and Water Conservation funds, the Park Service must review the proposed donation to ensure the swap is equal or greater in value to the former park. If the Golding property value is less, the city and county must reimburse the conservation funds to the Park Service. City officials believe the Golding property is worth more than the former park site.

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According to Flaggs’ letter, city and county officials submitted the required information about both properties to the Park Service in November 2022.

“As it stands today per the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the submitted conversion package has not been reviewed or approved by NPS,” Flaggs wrote. “Apparently, the NPS alleges they do not have the necessary staff to process the conversion requests received.”

The delay, Flaggs continued, places the community in a tough situation, especially with developing the new park.

“We cannot accept the donation of the Golding family or move forward with the construction of the park until the conversion is approved.”

Before it was closed, the former Riverfront Park was one of the most used recreation facilities in the city. It had playground equipment, a walking trail and picnic pavilions. On most weekends and holidays, the park would be full of families and groups using the facilities.

The park was closed briefly in 2018 to repair an erosion problem on the riverbank caused by a leaking water line that took down part of a fence and threatened playground equipment.

It was closed permanently in February 2020 after heavy rains caused two landslides on the riverbank and two on the hillside near the park road that covered the road in two spots.

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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