Arlington still awaits court actionPublished 12:00am Saturday, September 19, 2009
NATCHEZ — Despite its latest recognition as the second most endangered historic property in Mississippi, Arlington still awaits action by the municipal judge.
Arlington owner Dr. Thomas Vaughn of Jackson faces criminal charges for the dilapidated status of the John A. Quitman Avenue landmark, said Natchez Building Inspector Paul Dawes.
The Natchez Preservation Commission instructed Dawes to proceed with criminal charges against Vaughn earlier this year. Last July, the preservation commission voted to go forth with demolition by neglect proceedings.
Several letters were sent to Vaughn asking him to come before the preservation commission to plead his case, but the letters went unanswered and some were returned by the postal service, Dawes said.
“The city has done 100 percent of everything we can do at this point except getting the owner served and bringing him before the judge to face the charges,” Dawes said.
“If (Vaughn) is not financially able to restore the property, then perhaps he would be able to sell it to someone who could, instead of going through criminal proceedings.”
Dawes said Arlington’s fate sits on the desk of Municipal Judge Jim Blough, who received the case in March. Blough could not be reached for comment Thursday or Friday.
Dawes said the road to reselling and restoring Arlington has been rocky.
“We have gone through these proceedings not once, but several times,” Dawes said. “It’s frustrating.”
Natchez City Planner John “Rusty” Lewis, said Arlington’s endangered ranking by the Mississippi Heritage Trust encourages an overall solution.
If the owner is not going to do something with the property, then certainly the best thing he can do is let it come to be purchased by someone who will do the right thing and let it be rehabilitated,” Lewis said. “This is not a local landmark, this is a national landmark.
“This has been a time consuming process, but the end goal is the saving of Arlington and its successful rehabilitation and prosperous occupation.”
The Mississippi Heritage Trust has released a 10 most endangered places list since 1999. Once properties are placed on the list, many are given priority for grant funding and other assistance.