Monday, November 13, 2017

Smith Park restoration to commence

Downtown Jackson Partners issued the following statement. Artist renderings of Smith Park pre- and post-restoration are posted below.

Restoration begins on Jackson’s historic Smith Park

Public-private partnership will turn park into first-class green space

JACKSON, Miss. (Nov. 13, 2017) – The second phase of a long anticipated multi-million-dollar restoration of one of America’s oldest city parks will begin this week, Jackson city officials and downtown leaders announced today.

Phase II of the Smith Park restoration calls for the removal of dilapidated concrete waterways, the elimination of unsightly berms and the re-sodding of grass to create a more open and level green space for visitors to use in a safe and inviting environment.

At a cost of $100,000, funding for this portion of the overall $2.5 million restoration is made possible by Downtown Jackson Partners (DJP) in partnership and with the cooperation of the City of Jackson. Friends of Smith Park, a volunteer group committed to the park’s restoration, is also spearheading the effort. Plans for the project were reviewed and approved by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, given its designation as a Mississippi historic landmark.

“The City of Jackson is excited to partner with Downtown Jackson Partners in the restoration of Smith Park,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “This project is symbolic of the renaissance occurring in Downtown Jackson. When completed, Smith Park will be a world-class green space for all of Jackson and the state to enjoy.”

Phase II will take approximately two months to complete, during which time the park will be closed to the public for safety reasons. During the first phase last year, dead and dying trees were cleared from the park as well as those deemed unsustainable for long-term growth in a city park.

Through a series of public meetings and gatherings in 2013 and 2014, input was collected from property owners, businesses, residents and visitors on ways to best improve the landmark. From those meetings, Friends of Smith Park developed a plan and budget to transform the park into a top venue for entertainment and a place to relax amid the bustle of the city’s central business district.

“The restoration of Smith Park reflects the commitment of business owners and residents to transform downtown Jackson into the crown jewel of Mississippi’s capital city,” said John Ditto, who chairs Friends of Smith Park.

The third phase of the restoration calls for a re-designed open space with landscaped walkways, a modern stage to accommodate concerts and other entertainment, and a water pad and playground for children. Situated across the street from the Governor’s Mansion and bounded by Amite, Congress, West and Yazoo streets, Smith Park is one of the oldest continuously used city parks in America. It is the only surviving undeveloped square from the original 1822 plan for Mississippi’s then new capital.

“Smith Park is testament to what can happen when a city and its residents come together during a period of financial hardship to improve the quality of life for the entire state,” said Ben Allen, president of Downtown Jackson Partners.

Named for James Smith Jr., a colorful 19th century Scottish merchant and Jackson transplant who donated funds to improve the park in 1884, the green space is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

“Mississippi gave this land to the City of Jackson in 1838 for the express purpose of being enjoyed as a park, and this project will ensure that those plans remain for future generations,” said Michael Rejebian, president of Jackson’s Downtown Neighborhood Association.


Plain ol' Catfish said...

was wondering why they had those fences around there this morning.

Anonymous said...

At one time, the park was a notorious nighttime trolling spot for the gays. A lot of activity occurred amongst the bushes.

Justice for Tyrion said...

Mayor Lumumba is on a roll. So glad to have him in office and can't wait to see what he does next. Keep up the good work Mr. Mayor!

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter how much you improve the park. As long as the homeless get to hang out there I will avoid it at all costs. Clean it up and put the vagrants in shelters or bus them to Pearl and then maybe I'll come enjoy it with my children.

Anonymous said...

@12:55, not a bad idea. That might actually be an improvement for Pearl!

Anonymous said...

Those lush new green spaces will be a nice comfortable bed for the homeless during the warmer months. Until they can find a way to rid the park completely of the vagrants, then they are just putting lipstick on a pig.

Anonymous said...

Notice the absence of any mention of what the plan is for the homeless in downtown Jackson. No one wants to bring up the subject cause then they will have to deal with it. Many jails, prisons and institutions in this county and surrounding counties drop off their "discharges" at the Greyhound Station with a ticket and maybe a little money. A good number of the discharges stay. Some do need help. But - quite a few like living on the streets doing some crime and panhandling. I would like to see the Mayor and DJP develop and execute an action plan resolving this issue. This needs to happen to revitalize downtown. I'm not talking about forming a commission to do a year long study. Figure out what needs to be done and do it.

Anonymous said...

this is a far cry from the original plan, and all that wasted verbage could have just said "we are going to put sod out on the bare areas"

Anonymous said...

I think this is a good idea at some point but not right now.

Capitol Street needs to be completed up to State Street, downtown streets are in poor condition, store fronts look like third world buildings, grass and shrubs need to be cut near train station and King Edward, parking area for Convention Center needs to be demolished and rebuilt, office users need to be enticed to move downtown and most of all we need to get rid of Ben Allen. Somehow DJP always concentrates on projects that no one really cares about like Smith Park. Total lack of a knowledgeable leader at DJP.

I will continue my bombarding of Allen until he is gone---he has done more damage to downtown than anyone ever and I don't understand why the DJP Board can not figure this out. The Board could hire a well qualified downtown restoration specialist for just a little more than they pay Allen and the problem would be on it's way to being solved.

One question, how many businesses are coming downtown because of Smith Park. $2.5 Million wasted on something that could have waited until everything else mentioned above was completed.

Wow, will this madness ever end ?????????????

Anonymous said...

How could those minimal improvements possibly cost $2.5 million???

Anonymous said...

To: 2:16

Because you have a "FELON" running DJP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Plain ol' Catfish said...

at 12:49 PM

Go read "Men Like That" by John Howard

Everywhere in Mississippi was a late night strolling spot for Gay men. LOL!!!

There are a lot of places in downtown Jackson, I will never see the same again. LOL!!!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

1:49 2:16

this phase cost $100k. the overall rebuild is $2.5mil. Before you ask criticizing questions make sure you know the facts.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish how much longer are you going to let that bat shit crazy woman use this forum as a medium to trash DJP and anything about it?

Anonymous said...


I know what the overall dollar figure is but you are very quick to defend this project that is not needed at this time. Have you also got your hand in the cookie jar ??????

Your friend,

Anonymous said...


Who are you to restrain the right to free speech? I guess I am getting under your skin Ben. I will stop when you are fired or leave on your own. Do what's right for downtown Jackson !

Anonymous said...

3:20 ???????!!!!!!! #shereturns! #getalifeotherthancasinos

Anonymous said...

Named for James Smith Jr., a colorful 19th century Scottish merchant and Jackson transplant who donated funds to improve the park in 1884.

Did Mr. Smith own slaves, the park may need to be dug up and destroyed.

Anonymous said...

How does this "improve the quality of life for the entire state"?

Anonymous said...

Great addition and project. We may actually be able to use it now.

Anonymous said...

3:31. No. But he was best friends with Jeff Davis. Uh oh.

Anonymous said...

I hope the city will enforce the rules nd regulations for parks after completion, and make ALL organizations, including churches, abide by them.

Anonymous said...

Y'all dreaming if you think Mayor Sloganeering Lumumba is going to get tough with the homeless and others who frequent the park.

Anonymous said...

We need a first class downtown park. This is our best shot. It is right behind the Governor's Mansion. I applaud DJP and the City of Jackson for their efforts. Now maybe if the state will buy in, Smith Park can become a real asset.

Anonymous said...

Il live in Birmingham. We have Railroad Park, a 20 acre beauty downtown. This is what.....2 acres or so? This is a "no brainer". Do it.

Anonymous said...

Is there controversy in developing a downtown park? Really? Good God people look around. Get out of your provincial, ignorant bubbles. Cities with the arts and amenities live! Those without them don't.

Anonymous said...

I walk by or through there daily. I am sooo glad DJP is doing this. THANK YOU.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't they plan to finish the renovations before the opening of the 2 museums?

Anonymous said...

9:02. I understand the project was delayed when the state (MDAH) entered he plcture and requested this park be a Mississippi Landmark. DJP started all of it almost 10 years ago. I understand the Landmark designation held it up, but at the end of the day will be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

"This is a far cry from the original plan, and all that wasted verbage could have just said "we are going to put sod out on the bare areas"
November 13, 2017 at 1:41 PM

Yep! Also, they could say: "And, since city employees are too lazy to maintain them, we are removing all water features."

Anonymous said...

it's sad that this is all we have left as a park in Downtown Jackson. It had to be the greatest boneheaded move ever to remove the grass field at One Jackson Place for another building when there was probably already 1/2 million square feet of leasable office space available. Jackson has a opportunity to maximize on future development by getting off it's collective lazy, bureaucratic ass, and developing ordinances that create nice space and development for all it's citizens. While the suburbs re-create their version of "Hwy 80 Strip Mall Land", Jackson has a chance to position itself for proper and desirable residential and corporate development.....Jackson just needs to get out of its own way (and me-thinks, DJP, and some of the other names that have been floating around for to long need to get out the way and let some others take up the torch).

Link to the original master plan:

They got a long way to go, but it is sad that in this much time, 2.5 million could not be acquired to start and complete this.........Which probably also says that the State of Mississippi is going to have to get streamlined in the budget and legislative process. Parks and public spaces, urban and suburban should always trump wasted legislative time.

Anonymous said...

I think its a great addition and thank DJP and the Ditto's for getting this done.

Now if we could just convince Galloway to move their homeless outreach operation somewhere else, we could really clean up downtown. The fact that all the homeless people trot from all parts of downtown to Galloway every morning and then mingle around hurts the downtown image. There are plenty of buildings away from the core of downtown that Galloway could operate in. I compliment them for taking on this issue, but this is not the image we need people to see as they visit the Capitol and downtown every morning.

Anonymous said...

1249, your pat on the back to Chock is out of place. He not his administration had nothing to do with this project. Privately led effort, and paid for with private money. Nothing wrong with recognizing officials when they do something good, but you need to recognize the correct leaders.

Anonymous said...

Chockwe in the Obama mold- taking credit for work of others.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, 6:06 AM! It's nice to be able to see this issue from the eyes of homeless persons. Were you posting from a computer in a shelter, or was there a library open, already?

But why are fields of grass so important to you? Is that your favorite sort of place for sleeping, with your dog, when you're not panhandling?

I like your writing style. The reader can almost SEE you swatting at the hornets in your brain.

Anonymous said...

9:03. homeless are exactly what the legislature needs to see! provide support for the least of us rather than funds for shopping malls!

Anonymous said...

What and y'all are letting Trump take credit for the Obama economy we are enjoying everywhere but Mississippi, because you guys want to imitate Kansas!

Anonymous said...

The Obama economy? ROFLMAO

Hose It Down... said...

Every zoo hoses the shit out of the elephant cages periodically. But, at the end of the day (as pointed out above) they are still elephant cages and there are still elephants and there will still be shit. Oh....and hoses.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 9:03 and I wish Galloway could be persuaded to move their homeless outreach operation elsewhere (though I'm sure no one else really wants this problem at their doorstep). But there is a much bigger problem with homelessness and vagrancy in Jackson that is citywide and needs to be addressed by the Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Look at what used to be Calvary Baptist, right down the street. Once the largest Baptist Church in Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

3:30 #lilenragedcokehead

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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