‘Vision’ economic plan for Jackson still on track

Duane O'Neill
Duane O’Neill

JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Since October 2012, fundraising for Jackson’s Vision 2022/One Voice — a private sector-driven, long-range economic plan — has reached $3.4 million.

Duane O’Neill, president of Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, tells The Clarion-Ledger that for implementation to stay on schedule, $6 million must be raised within five years.

The plan has 10 initiatives, ranging from upgrading the city’s infrastructure to promoting the arts. The one that has gotten the most attention — and the most funding — since last year’s launch is the advancement of the One Lake project.

The combination flood control/economic development enterprise has been in the making since Jackson’s 1979 Easter flood with Jackson businessman John McGowan, promoting it from the outset, in charge of developing it now.

“The lake would definitely be the starting point,” O’Neill said.

The project has gone through several iterations, including a two-lake version that died a couple of years ago. O’Neill is confident the latest incarnation will stick.

“All the efforts seem to be unified with the one-lake plan,” O’Neill said. “As long as we do our due diligence, we think the stars will align.”

An environmental impact study funded by some of the first $200,000 raised to implement Vision started earlier this year and should wrap late next spring. Before that, officials hope One Lake is certified as the “preferred alternative” for flood control along the Pearl River.

The project, whose estimated overall cost will hover around $250 million, will then have to earn a couple of levels of approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, before being vetted by another round of federal agencies in Washington.

Lewis Slater, senior vice president at Greater Jackson, said the organization has spent several months educating civic groups in metro Jackson about One Lake and have asked them to pen letters of support for the project. A public comment period that opened in August will expire at the end of November.

Another $275,000 has been spent on the recreational trails initiative. Neel-Schaffer Engineering is in the middle of surveying the Museum-to-Market trail that will run from the Mississippi Farmers Market on High Street to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and the Mississippi Children’s Museum off Interstate 55.

The $275,000 unlocked a $1.1 million federal grant for the project. Groundbreaking is scheduled for mid-2014, with completion by late next year.