Auburn needs more city attentionPublished 12:04am Friday, July 27, 2012
The City of Natchez has a great asset and great responsibility that it may too often simply ignore.
Thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers, it’s not necessary that city leaders react to the needs at historic Auburn very often, but that doesn’t mean the city-owned antebellum house should be off the radar of elected leadership.
The president of the volunteer preservation group that operates and maintains Auburn for the city approached the board earlier this week with a request for aid.
The group has the opportunity to receive grant dollars to restore the plantation’s kitchen and servant quarters, making them ready for tours.
A growing interest among the public in understanding the entire story — from slaves to rich homeowners — presents an opportunity for the house to tell a more complete story to a more diverse, more interested audience.
But in order to receive the grant money, the group needs a commitment from the city of $27,000 annually for three years to be used as matching funds.
It’s a legitimate request for a city-owned attraction. As city leaders begin mapping out a budget, they’d be wise to work the cost into their plans.
But finding the money now and ignoring the house later won’t be enough.
Instead, the city needs to assign some of its paid employees to be more involved in what happens at the house. A better marketing effort could attract more tourists and locals to the property.
More visible information about the house on city tourism and government websites is easy enough to accomplish.
Even making sure all the aldermen visit the house once a year could ensure Auburn’s needs are not only handled, but that the house is respected as an important part of city inventory.