Downtown Jackson News
Renovations begin on Jackson’s historic Smith Park
$2.5 million public-private partnership part of Downtown revitalization
JACKSON, Miss. (Nov. 7, 2016) – The first phase of a $2.5 million renovation of one of the oldest city parks in America began this month with the carefully planned tree-scaping of Downtown’s Smith Park.
On the advice and in conjunction with professional landscape architects, dead and dying trees were cleared from the park as well as those deemed unsustainable for long-term growth in a city park. The result is a more open and inviting greenspace for downtown visitors, business people and residents.
This first phase of the Smith Park renovation is part of a public-private partnership between the city of Jackson, Downtown Jackson Partners (which funded the tree management project) and Friends of Smith Park, a community group committed to the park’s revitalization.
“The goal of the Smith Park renovation is to create a world-class public space that will help spur development in downtown Jackson while enhancing the Capitol Complex,” said John Ditto, who chairs Friends of Smith 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 this historic landmark. From those meetings, Friends of Smith Park developed a plan and budget to transform the park into a venue for entertainment and a place to relax amid the bustle of the city’s central business district. The plan calls for a newly designed open greenspace with landscaped walkways, a modern stage to accommodate concerts and other entertainment, and a water pad and playground for children.
“This history of Smith Park is reason alone to ensure its success,” said Michael Rejebian, president of Jackson’s Downtown Neighborhood Association. “Ever since the state of Mississippi donated this land to the city in 1838, it has served as a centerpiece of our capital city.”
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.
Named for James Smith Jr., a colorful 19th century Scottish merchant and Jackson transplant who donated funds for the park in 1884, the greenspace is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
“Smith Park sits at the epicenter of our state, and so it’s a place that belongs to all Mississippians,” said Ben Allen, president of Downtown Jackson Partners. “We invite everyone who has an interest in the success of our capital city to be part of this important project.”
Copy of Smith Park Proposal
Learn more about the Smith Park project at http://www.teamjxn.com/our-initiatives.