Poplarville Board of Aldermen moving forward with City Square Park

Published 7:00 am Friday, May 4, 2018

Correction: this story has been corrected to provide accurate funding details, such as grant amounts and dates awarded, as well as the use of said funding. 

On Monday, May 7 construction of the Poplarville City Square Park will begin officially.

This construction is part of phase two of the city’s plan to improve economic development.

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According to City Clerk Jane O’Neal, last year the city of Poplarville was awarded two Small Municipalities Grants by the Mississippi Development Authority. The first was awarded in 2016 and included $125,000, which was allocated to be used in phase 1 for the initial purchase of the land. The second was awarded in 2017 and included $143,857 which was allocated for use in phase two, which includes construction of the park.

“South Mississippi Planning and Development District would be paid $5,000 in administration fees, with additional $17,263 in engineering fees of $22,263 to be budgeted for the City’s part of the project,” the September 20, 2016 minutes read.

O’Neal said the city has until December 31, 2018 to complete the project.

Poplarville Alderwoman Anne Smith said the previous Board of Aldermen completed phase one. When the current Board members were voted into office, Smith said they worked toward putting phase two into action.

Phase two will focus on infrastructure, and will involve the installation of new side walks, parking to make downtown more accessible, handicap parking, landscaping and decorative lights, among other things.

Smith said the park will serve two purposes – boosting the local economy and improving the aesthetics of Poplarville. She said the hope is for this park to be a center point for the city of Poplarville – a place where people can gather for events or spend time together outdoors.

Since there are so many local businesses in that area, the addition of better lighting and more parking will hopefully encourage more people to visit these businesses. Smith hopes that having an aesthetically pleasing downtown and city center will encourage more people to move to Poplarville.

“The center of the town is going to have a focal point – we are going to look like we’re cared about and nurtured,” Smith said.

Smith said that when the park is finished, it will be a great place for local events to be held. Once construction is complete, the park will be home to the local farmer’s market. Besides being the perfect location for daytime events, Smith said the lights that are being installed by the Mississippi Power Company will be put on a switch, so they can be turned on and off so the park can be utilized for Movies On Main and other nighttime activities.

“It’s going to be an amazing addition to everything,” Smith said. “We’re addressing every angle – from community to safety.”

The city is also applying for the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation’s Healthy Hometown Award, which could be used for any number of things, such as the promotion of the farmer’s market, installation of exercise equipment or construction of a bike trail.

Smith said the Board hopes to incorporate a phase three, which will include business incubator buildings. However, this phase is reliant on future funding, which Smith is unsure will become available anytime soon.