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“Catfish Row” playground has damaged, broken, missing and inaccessible equipment

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There are several equipment damages at the Art Park. Photo credits: Tessa Scandizzo

The Art Park on Levee Street, commonly referred to as “Catfish Row,” has damaged, broken, missing, and inaccessible equipment.

Stained glass is broken on decorative butterflies.

About the park:

The Art Park opened to the public on July 9, 2005. It sits on 1.2 acres of land and has become a popular attraction for families in Vicksburg.

The Art Park features a playground and splash fountain. There are concrete walls displaying artwork by local children. There is also a play area replicating a steamboat which uses parts of the old Sprague boat that burned and sank on April 15, 1974.

Parts of the Sprague have become part of the playground. Turf is damaged in several places.

Damages, missing equipment, and litter:

The Art Park has 14 specific features that have not been repaired or replaced.

On the playground, this includes a broken slide, a missing slide, and damages to turf beneath swings. There are missing handles on two sets of still rings, a broken water fountain, missing sensory wheels in the toddler section, and a sandbox with no sand. Also, there’s a broken balance beam, broken musical bells, and a missing piece of unidentifiable equipment. Stained glass is broken on the giant decorative butterflies behind the swings.

One slide is broken and has been nailed together. Another slide broke and was never replaced.

The standing rings are missing handles.

The balance beam is broken.

Concrete walls once displayed many artworks by children but they are now missing most of them. Several remaining artworks are damaged and one lays broken on the ground. There used to be a viewpoint overlooking the park with a telescope but the telescope is now broken. There are damages to equipment and turf in the steamboat play area.

Children’s artwork is missing and damaged.

The telescope is no longer functional.

Litter is laying around the park which includes broken glass bottles, empty snack bags, and plastics. A pile of bricks also lays on the ground near the swings. Dirt and damage completely covers turf in some areas.

Bricks litter the ground.

Further observations:

Safety and accessibility updates have not been made to the park.

The playground has no wheelchair friendly or disabled-accessible equipment. The splash fountain, which opens during summer, has decorative catfish on the ground. The catfish are slippery when wet which creates a fall hazard. Children often climb the dirt hill near the swings but plastic pipes, sharp rocks, and fragments of glass are exposed on the hill.

We reached out to Alderman Alex Monsour who has ultimate responsibility for the park

Monsour referred us to Rick Daughtry, Director of Parks and Recreation, on damages and concerns:

Director of Parks and Recreation, Rick Daughtry, started with, “I inherited the park. It was done before I came to the City of Vicksburg.” Daughtry stated that he is aware of several issues in the Art Park. He noted the delay on repairs and replacements has to do with lack of funding as well as manufacturing. The broken and missing slides, for instance, aren’t being made anymore. “We spent two days last week going to every single playground that we have and going through them and looking at what is broke, what is old, and we are getting a detailed synopsis of each playground and what it would take to fix the broken portions and to possibly update some things that aren’t being made anymore if they’ll fit.” When asked about the safety hazards Daughtry replied that the catfish are less slippery than they were at first and that you should not run on them.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Daughtry. He also mentioned that Kim Hopkins with Main Street is working with one of the school programs to have children’s artwork redone and replaced.

How can the community help?

Daughtry said, “If you see something, say something,” in regards to needed repairs, upgrades, or safety concerns. The community can also assist by cleaning up garbage behind themselves and their children to keep the park clean. Further information on how the community can help will be given as it is received.

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