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Hinds County plans to use some of its American Rescue Plan money to make upgrades to parks in the city of Jackson.
Plans are to install a fitness structure at Belhaven Park, additional playground equipment at Parham Bridges Park and a half-mile walking trail at Jamie Fowler Boyll Park.
The Hinds County Board of Supervisors will fund the improvements with dollars from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package designed to facilitate the United States’ recovery from the devastating economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The American Rescue Plan allows for you to spend money for outdoor spaces so people will get outside and improve their physical and mental health,” said Robert Graham, the supervisor who represents District 1. “It allows you to upgrade your parks.”
Each supervisor was allocated $500,000 to upgrade parks from the $22 million Hinds County has received from the American Rescue Plan, he said. The county will receive another $22 million in January from the plan.
The city of Jackson must approve the plans, and an agreement between the city and county must be signed before work can take place. Bids would need to be taken for the playground equipment and fitness structures.
Ison Harris, parks and recreation director for the city of Jackson, and Debra Gibbs, who represents District 72-Hinds and Madison counties in the Legislature, are providing input, Graham said.
“Ison Harris has some money received through a grant, and Debra Gibbs has an allotment for parks she received from the Legislature,” he said.
Hinds County will pay for materials for the half-mile walking trail at Jamie Fowler Boyll Park and the city of Jackson will provide labor to install it. “We’ve marked it off and we’re waiting for the city of Jackson’s approval,” he said.
Graham would like the walking trail to be installed before winter sets in but the red tape of getting an agreement between the city and county signed could slow the process.
Hico Park, Northgate Park, Norwood Park and the two sections of Manhattan Park will also see improvements from the funds.
The fitness structures in two parks in Richland impress Graham and he would like the ones in Jackson to be similar.
“I’m trying to model what we do off from what a good friend of mine, Pat Sullivan, the mayor of Richland, had installed at a park on the east side and a park on the west side of Highway 49,” he said. “Those fitness structures are absolutely gorgeous.”
Graham said the structures encourage adults to be more active.
“In the past we’ve just had playground equipment for children,” he said. “Mom and dad would sit down at the playground and read a book while the children played. Now they can be active.”
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