$5.3 million in improvements on tap for Purple Creek basin, Freedom Ridge Park
RIDGELAND, Miss. (WLBT) - More than $5.3 million in improvements recently approved by the Ridgeland mayor and Board of Aldermen promise to bring even more outdoor recreational activities to Freedom Ridge Park.
Last week, city officials signed off on the improvements, which include drainage work along Purple Creek and the addition of new areas for fishing, wildlife observation, walking, and hiking at Freedom Ridge.
The first phase of the project, which removed a major constriction point in the Purple Creek tributary itself, was completed last month.
Phases two and three should get underway in the fall of 2024, Public Works Director Alan Hart said in an email.
Design work is expected to take six to eight months to complete. Construction will take 12 to 14 months. The city anticipates work on both phases will be ongoing at the same time.
The projects are being funded with $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act money from Madison County, $1.83 million from the Mississippi Municipality and County Water Infrastructure Grant Program, and $1 million from the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund.
Madison County also provided $500,000 to fund the Purple Creek tributary work.
The handful of people at the park on Thursday appeared to support the plans, which they say could make their experiences at the 50-acre site even better.
“I’m excited to see the outcome of when it’s complete,” said Ronda Demir. “We need more of that here. We really do.”
Demir, who lives in Pearl, goes to the park on her lunch breaks. She said walking its trails gives her time to pray and spend time with God before going back to work.
She said the park already has a lot to offer but believes the improvements would provide people with another incentive to get back to nature, if only for a few minutes.
“That’s making it more people friendly, I would say more enjoyable,” she said. “Something to just get your mind off of... your daily routine.”
Freedom Ridge is located in the 200 block of East School Street in Ridgeland.
According to the city’s website, it includes four lighted adult softball fields, four lighted soccer fields, four picnic pavilions, batting cages, and two facilities that contain restrooms and concession stands.
The park also is home to two playgrounds, a three-acre pond, and wooded areas. All elements of the facility are connected by internal walking trails and sidewalks.
“One of the goals of this project is to provide educational resources to visitors,” Hart said. “The educational component will consist of signage and exhibits to identify wildlife, [and] plant life, and promote the importance of the natural environment.”
“It will also highlight the local habitat and unique features in Ridgeland.”
The second and third phases will include the addition of new fishing sites, as well as hiking and walking trails with observation decks, benches, and educational signage.
Additional work along Purple Creek, meanwhile, will reduce erosion and flooding downstream, and help preserve the streambank in the immediate area.
Madison resident Ryan Travis and his son Brennan were working on fielding skills Thursday at one of Freedom Ridge’s ballfields.
The two visit several times a week to practice and play ball, and both said they like the idea of being able to come to the park to fish.
“I think that would be amazing,” Ryan Travis said. “It’s going to bring a lot of interest to the area.”
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