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 Tunica Mississippi River Park  Project (archived)

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Tunica River Park
Tunica County, Mississippi
Project Facts

Location: The site is located at approximate River Mile 699L on the Mississippi River near Robinsonville, Tunica County, Mississippi.

Site Characteristics: Subject to periodic flooding, the site contains a variety of hardwood and softwood trees, under story grasses and wildflowers. The average mean water level at this location is 179.7 feet above sea level, the riverbank is at approximately 200.0 and the top of the levee is at 220.0. Normal annual water level fluctuation is between 165.0 and 195.0; 5-year flood is 202.0, 10-year flood is 205.0, 25-year flood is 208.0, 50-year flood is 211.0 and 100-year flood is 213.0. The master plan requires approximately 168 acres of land for the park development. This will accommodate all the programmed functions and will also provide some expansion space for any future development that might occur. All of the construction will be designed to withstand the various flooding conditions of the river. Some of the structures, such as the road system will periodically go under water while the top of the harbor berm and the buildings will be located above the 100 year flood level.

Zoning Constraints: Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality 401 Permit and a Corps of Engineers 404 Permit for Wetland Mitigation and Navigation describing channel maintenance and bank stabilization. Plus normal SBC requirements for the building.

Type of Client: Governmental, Tunica County, Mississippi. Client represented by County Administrator and five elected members of the Board of Supervisors.

Program: Except for a small municipal park on the riverbank near the town of Tunica, there is no opportunity anywhere in Tunica County for tourists or residents to easily view or experience the Mississippi River. The 1999 Strategic Action Plan for Tourism in Tunica County, Mississippi proposed that a Mississippi River experience be developed somewhere in the county. Responding to this high priority recommendation, our design team was engaged to develop a phased master plan for construction of a riverfront park on the Mississippi River in Tunica County.

Three sites were analyzed based on such criteria as access, utilities, availability of the property, natural features, views of the river and shoreline configuration. A site near Fitzgerald’s Casino was selected for the riverfront park development.

Through a series of workshop meetings with representatives of the Tunica County Board of Supervisors, Tunica County CVB, Levee Board, Fitzgerald’s Casino, Tunica County Public Works and private citizens, an outline of intended uses and required facilities was defined. Three major components were identified 1) Harbor, 2) Visitors Center and 3) Nature Experience.

The Harbor will be dredged out of the existing river bank and provide a floating dock to accommodate a large excursion boat which may be privately operated. It will also have six or eight boat slips primarily for small transient pleasure boats as well as a boat launch ramp for public use. The docking facility will also be designed to accommodate the Delta Queen riverboats, which regularly cruise up and down the river. A large fountain is proposed in the river at the Harbor. The high arching water jet would be visible for miles and would serve as both a landside and a waterside gateway into the park. Utilities to support this dock and ADA compliant access to the boats will be provided. Required roads, parking and pedestrian access will be built.

The Visitors Center will be a building of approximately 37,000 square feet. It will house all the administrative space to support the marina facilities. It will also include a large waiting lobby, concession area, gift shop, meeting rooms and river-levee museum including a Mississippi River stocked fresh-water aquarium. This museum will offer interpretive exhibits that describe the history of the river and its levee system and the impact that they have had on Tunica County. Exterior building spaces will include terraces overlooking the river, a promenade along the top of the curving harbor facility and bridges to the nature trail system. An observation deck, elevated several stories in the air, overlooking the harbor and the river will also be a part of the building.

The Nature Experience will include nature trails of varying lengths as well as interpretative information about the wetland environment of the river. ADA trails will be built as well as longer trails through the park. Additional landscaping will be installed as a part of the project and interpretive earth forms such as small levees and earth mounds will be built to help describe the historic flood levels at this location. Located throughout the park will be sculptural elements including wind sculptures and stabiles, however the use of earth forms will provide the primary focus for artistic and interpretative expression.

Construction Systems: The harbor berm will be built in lifts of engineered fill, which will come from the dredging of the harbor itself, with an under drain system and secured with over 1200 soil nails. Riprap stone, tying into the existing trench-fill bank system will form the harbor walls. The dock will be a custom-built steel-floating barge with a steel and concrete ramp and metal roof construction. A 25%-foot long steel truss gangway will connect the dock to the land. The dock will float up and down on eighty-foot tall steel dolphins, welded to concrete pile caps placed in the bottom of the dredged harbor. The building will be a steel framed structure with a corrugated metal panel skin; different panel colors will indicate functional spaces in the building. The overlook structure or “sail”, the most prominent feature of the building will be framed with three-dimensional trusses and veneered with perforated metal panels.

Funding and Schedule: The project is estimated at $20,500,000 construction cost. Funding will be provided by Tunica County as part of its Capital Improvements Budget. Construction on the site work is scheduled to begin in October 2001, with final completion of the building in the summer of 2003.

Architect: Williamson Pounders Architects, PC (Memphis, TN)

Engineer: PDR Engineers (Memphis, TN; Louisville, KY; Lexington, KY)

Landscape: SWA Group (Dallas, TX)

What an addition to Tunica!

Watch Tunica-ms.com for updates and news as Tunica River Front Project develops.

To View A Larger Picture Click On It.  To Return To This Page Click On The Back Arrow.

Aerial view of harbor looking south showing meander gardens, Visitors Center building, entry plaza, parking, boat launch ramp, promenade and dock.

Aerial view of harbor looking southwest showing Visitors Center building, dock, promenade and parking.

Aerial view looking southwest showing Visitors Center building, entry plaza and promenade. Transparent curving metal sail structure is visible at entry.

View of Visitors Center building, entry plaza and promenade showing entry court and grand stair to the River overlook.

View of curving metal sail structure and observation deck at entrance to the Visitors Center building and grand stair to the River overlook.

View of glass wall and covered terrace overlooking the River, observation deck and two-story museum in background.

View looking northwest showing entrance road, two-story museum wing, curving metal sail and entry canopy.

View looking north showing two-story museum wing, curving perforated metal sail and observation deck.

View looking south of Visitors Center building showing glass wall and covered terrace overlooking the River, the curving metal sail and observation deck.

View looking south of Visitors Center building showing glass wall and covered terrace overlooking the River, curving metal sail and observation deck, two-story museum in the background and promenade in foreground.

View inside the curving metal sail looking at the building entry canopy, entry doors and at the observation deck above. Large circular cutout holes offer views of the meander gardens from the deck.

View looking north at the observation deck level showing truss structure at the metal sail and corrugated metal siding on the building.

View in the building reception lobby showing reception desk, lobby, skylights, vending area and glass wall overlooking the River.

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