City applies for $2 million grant for parkPublished 12:04am Sunday, August 19, 2012
NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez applied last week for an approximately $2 million grant to build the proposed public park on Roth Hill Road.
The city’s 20-percent cost match would total approximately $507,000, according to the grant application.
The city plans to combine the two $300,000 contributions from the city’s lease with Magnolia Bluffs Casino developers for the Natchez Trails Project and the park for the 20-percent cost match for the grant, which is funded through the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement program.
The plans for the $2.5 million park include an amphitheater, an in-ground spray fountain, lawn area, a boardwalk connecting to the Natchez Trails Project, playground and garden area.
Landscape architect Bob Hughes of HGOR Planners & Landscape Architects, which has been hired by the casino to design the park, has said patrons will enter the park from the parking lot adjacent to the Magnolia Bluffs Casino through an arched gateway. A mound planted with trees will form the body of a fish that will have a sculpted head and fin coming out of the ground near a play area for children.
The play area, or “the area of wonderment and delight,” will include an in-ground spray fountain with interactive water features and a river overlook area.
The amphitheater, or “The Bowl” as it is called in the plans, will seat approximately 500 people and have a staging area for entertainment.
A boardwalk will extend from the upper level of the amphitheater and connect to the Natchez Trails Project’s gravel nature trail below the bluff. The trail will come down by the amphitheater, go down through the park and parking lot and loop around the park.
A riverside garden area on the south end of the park will include a pavilion and an area for large gatherings.
The grant application states the city intends to fund future maintenance of the park with budgeted monies from the city’s general fund and budgeted monies from the Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission.
Maintenance will include litter pick up three days a week and restroom disinfections. Seasonal maintenance will include weed and turf control along the trail edges, benches and picnic areas.
City Engineer David Gardner said he is not sure how much funding remains in the transportation enhancement program, but he said funds might be limited. He said, however, he thinks Natchez may have a leg up on receiving the grant.
“A lot of smaller communities may not be able to go after that size grant because they can’t provide the 20-percent match,” Gardner said. “Fortunately, we have the match in place.”
Gardner said he also believes the city’s application is more favorable because park construction is proposed as all one project, and not phases that could drag out over time.
From an MDOT perspective, Gardner said, administering one large grant would be much simpler for the department rather than several smaller grants.
Gardner said he is also optimistic because MDOT granted the first Natchez Trails Project grant of approximately $1.7 million. The park project, he said, is a continuation of the Trails with many more benefits.
Gardner said the city plans to host public hearings if it is awarded the grant for input and feedback during the final detailed design process. He said the hearings will more than likely be sometime late this year or early 2013.