Vicksburg takes next steps toward new sports complex

Published 10:21 am Thursday, October 26, 2017

VICKSBURG — Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has named a five-member committee to review proposals to design, build and manage the city’s proposed sports complex, the Vicksburg Post reports. 

“On next Monday, Oct. 30, I believe, we’re going to have a special called meeting at 10 o’clock to adopt a resolution to send forward requests for proposals for the sports complex,” Flaggs said at Wednesday’s board meeting. “We believe the time has come that we move forward on the design, construction and operation of this sports complex and the access road, whatever you want to call it.”

The five-member committee consists of city attorney Nancy Thomas, South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour, parks and recreation director Joe Graves, city accounting director Doug Whittington and Omar Nelson, chairman of the sports complex design committee appointed by Flaggs in July.

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Flaggs said the committee will review all proposals for the design, construction and operation of the sports complex.

The board in September announced plans to hire an engineer for a proposed bypass road and to hire a bond attorney to prepare documents to issue bonds to build the road and the sports complex. The sports complex will be built on city-owned property off Fisher Ferry Road.

The bypass road will link U.S. 61 South to Halls Ferry Road to help relieve traffic on Halls Ferry Road, and provide access to the proposed sports complex to be built on the city’s property off Fisher Ferry Road. Its location has not been determined.

Preliminary estimates put the total cost of both projects at about $30 million — $20 million for the sports complex and $10 million for the road.

Proposals from four engineering firms, EJEF Inc., Waggoner Engineering and Stantec, all of Jackson, and Linfield, Hunter & Junius Inc. of Metairie, La., were received by the board Oct. 9, and referred to a special committee appointed by Flaggs to review and a recommend a company. No date was given when the committee will make a recommendation.

Funding for the projects will be done through the Mississippi Development Bank, which issues revenue bonds for local governments to fund capital improvement projects. The bonds will be paid off by revenue from a special 2 percent sales tax on hotel rooms and food and beverage sales at restaurants that is estimated to bring in about $2 million a year. The voters approved the tax in the June general municipal elections.

The city in 2003 bought a 200-acre tract on Fisher Ferry Road for a sports complex for $325,000. City officials abandoned the project in 2009 after spending an additional $2.7 million for preliminary plans, engineering and dirt work.

At the time of its purchase, the Fisher Ferry project known in the city files as Champion Hill recreation complex, and Clear River Construction of Jackson had a $2.38 million contract to do dirt work on the property. The project was supposed to begin in January 2009 and end by November 2009.

Clear River, however, stopped work in February 2009 because property was not staked out as promised.

In May 2009, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a change order to revise plans to avoid a wetlands area because Hatcher Bayou runs along the property’s north boundary. The city had to pay $88,865.88 in damages for delay between February and May 4, 2009, the contract price increased by $32,996.90 to $2,413,967.34, and the completion deadline extended by 92 days.

In June 2009, the city got a Department of Environmental Quality wetlands permit, paid another penalty of $14,152.61, and extended the contract deadline by 57 more days to April 2010.

Work was later halted when the city had to divert money from the project to replace the Washington Street Bridge over Kansas City Railroad tracks near what is now WaterView Casino.

In 2012, Winfield’s attempt to get a complex failed when an attempt to get a local bill for a special sales tax passed in the Legislature failed.

Flaggs renewed the search after taking office, appointing a recreation committee in May 2014.

The committee later recommended building a sports complex, leading to two feasibility studies on the Fisher Ferry property, the push for a complex by the board and the approval of the special sales tax.