City hires firm to design markers for Kuhn park
Published 11:32 am Thursday, December 28, 2023
A Brentwood, Tenn. design firm has been hired to design trail markers for the Kuhn Memorial Civil Rights Park.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Dec. 22 approved a contract totaling $9,720 with en8 Design to develop the markers for the park, which is on the site of the former Kuhn Memorial Hospital on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Mayor George Flaggs Jr. proposed the park at a Nov. 25, 2019, meeting of the board after it rejected two proposals for a multi-use residential/commercial and recreation development on the property.
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He said at the time the park would have a walking trail and highlight the importance of Kuhn Memorial Hospital to the community with monuments to the hospital and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and displays showing the contributions of area residents, churches and organizations to the civil rights movement.
Flaggs later appointed a seven-member committee to oversee the park’s design and accept nominations for the park.
He said Thursday the committee is reviewing the nominations.
“We’re not just talking about people; we’re also including groups,” he said.
Kuhn Memorial Hospital was a city-owned building funded and operated by the state of Mississippi as a charity hospital until 1989.
In 1993, the building was considered as a possible veterans home, and in 1994 it was considered for a possible 38-bed adolescent psychiatric ward and later considered as the possible site for a 100-bed clinic and assisted living center.
In 2000, the Lassiter-Studdard Group Inc., which owned the property at the time, donated it to the Esther Stewart Buford Foundation.
Since then, the property was sold six times for taxes, and city officials tried for at least 10 years to get the property owner to clean and demolish or renovate the buildings on the site.
The board on July 6, 2017, put the 12.8-acre property under the city’s slum clearance ordinance in a move to step up its efforts to remove the complex’s main building.
When the parties with an interest in the property failed to present plans to either raze or renovate the buildings by September 2017, it cleared the way for the city to begin the process for demolition.
The city officially took title to the Kuhn property Nov. 1, 2017, after reaching agreements with the four parties that had interests in the property.