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City OK’s contract for road extension, pickleball courts

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday approved two items expected to enhance Halls Ferry Park. In unanimous votes, the board approved contracts for the construction of new pickleball courts and the construction of a road extension leading into Halls Ferry Park off of Halls Ferry Road.

The board awarded the bid for the Halls Ferry Road extension to Theobald Construction of Vicksburg, which was the low bidder on the project with $185,125, the lowest of four bids submitted for the work. All four bids were under the project’s estimated $300,000 cost.

Other contractors submitting bids were Central Asphalt of Vicksburg, $227,504; Fordice Construction of Vicksburg, $262,938; and Hemphill Construction of Florence, $231,975.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said city officials have resolved several concerns of businesses along the route about the street, clearing the way for the project.

“My main concern early on was that the new road would in someway block access to our drive-through, which since COVID started, makes up about 80 percent of our business,” Caffe Paradiso owner Julie Ford said. “When we get busy, the line wraps all the way up to the nearby building.”

Ford said she had not seen the new design for the road but was pleased to know that her concerns had been addressed by the city.

“As long as my customers and delivery drivers still have access then this is a win-win,” Ford said. 

The board in August approved a $14,000 contract with Allen & Hoshall Engineers of Jackson to design the project known as the “Halls Ferry Park Road Extension.”

Presently, the dead-end road intersects with Halls Ferry Road and runs between Chick-fil-A on the road’s north side and Starbuck’s Coffee. Under the project, the road will be extended from its intersection with Halls Ferry Road to the park.

City officials acquired the right of way to extend the road, which is south of the Halls Ferry/Pemberton Square Boulevard intersection. Under the agreement with the city, the engineers designed an asphalt road to the park and also enlarged the entrance to Fire Station No. 8.

Theobald Construction was the contractor on the parking lot project for MCITy, Flaggs said.

The extension, he said, “Should take a lot of that traffic off Halls Ferry by that light, both ways. That’s a progressive move for this city.”

South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour, who is over the city’s recreation department, said the road will enter the park at the pickleball courts, which will be built on the former site of the ladies’ softball field.

The board authorized Flaggs to execute the city’s contract with Quality Court Industries of Baton Rouge, La., to build the courts.

Quality Court bid $253,676 to do the work. The bid was the lowest of four bids submitted for the project, which was rebid in October after the initial bids for the courts in September came in over the $278,000 budget for the project. The project was also redesigned to help reduce its cost.

Pickleball is a game played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes that employs the elements of tennis, Ping-Pong and badminton. It is played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and with a slightly modified tennis net.

The sport has become popular with many residents, who play at several local gymnasiums and on the Halls Ferry tennis courts, where the pickleball courts are lined off using tape.

But the tape was damaging the tennis courts and threatening the potential to host the U.S. Tennis Association-sanctioned tennis tournaments at the tennis complex, Monsour said in September.

City officials initially planned to build the pickleball courts adjacent to the tennis complex, but problems with the proposed site forced the courts’ relocation to the ladies softball field at Halls Ferry.

“We’ve gone through the proper process and it’s taken a little while and we’re using the bond money that was allocated in 2015,” Monsour said. “I am trying to get Halls Ferry Park accessible to every age group and every sport that we possibly can to increase tourism, tournaments and also for the quality of  life for everyone in Vicksburg.”

Monsour said Quality Court Industries is expected to start construction by mid-February.

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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