Civil War Helena is up and moving as Cathy Cunningham confirmed Tuesday night at the city council session. Cunningham explained that there are currently two projects in the works including Battery C at the entrance of Yorkshire and Freedom Park, which is slated to be dedicated during Black History Month in February.
Cunningham stated that her presence at the council meeting was to request that the council affirm the projects that are currently being worked on and to provide a progress update for each project.
According to Cunningham, Battery C's property was donated to the city in the 70s by Gibson Turley and is one of four earthen batteries erected by the Union Army is 1862, when it briefly fell to the Confederates during the Battle of Helena on July 1863.
“Battery C and the interpretation of Battery C is a major key element of the Civil War Helena Project,” said Cunningham.
According to Cunningham, Southern Bancorp Community Partners will soon be requesting the city council to deed part of the property of Battery C to them, which they will then, in turn by the end of 2013, develop that land as a public park to be deeded to the Delta Cultural Center.
Cunningham explained that this will be the same process that was advocated with Fort Curtis as it will be deemed a non-profit and allow them to write the grants and be granted the funding needed to develop the park.
“We have just deeded Fort Curtis to the Delta Cultural Center and will be deeding Freedom Park to them as well by the end of December 2013 as part of the Civil War Helena Project process,” stated Cunningham.
Cunningham went onto say that Southern Bancorp is working with the Walton Family Foundation on both of these tourism-boosting projects. The foundation has provided funding in the amount over $334,000 for the interpretation and completion of Battery C.
“This will include the interpretive waysides, a really nice gated and entry area, new road and access to a parking area that will be handicapped accessible boardwalk that will take visitors up to the top of that battery so all people from all walks of life will be able to access the view of the city and learning the interpretation of Civil War Helena,” stated Cunningham
Cunningham added that Battery C happened to be the only area during the Civil War that was overtaken by the Confederates,” added Cunningham.
Southern Bancorp and the Delta Cultural Center have successfully matched each grant locally.
“We were very fortunate to receive a Byways grant of $402,000 that will allow us to improve Biscoe Street and almost the entire area of what used to be Jack's Communications down through Freedom Park, Estevan Hall and Fort Curtis,” Cunningham reported.
Page 2 of 2 - Cunningham added that in order to keep these projects moving, they would like a vote of affirmation or a vote of support from the council.
“We know that we can't get the actual resolution without the Arkansas Highway Department's updated resolution changes until it is submitted to us. However, an adoption is necessary in order to advise the Walton's and other collaborators that the city is fully supportive of our initiative,” commented Cunningham.
The council went on record with their full support in the two projects that were presented.