City, county officials work to rekindle recreation effortsPublished 12:04am Wednesday, September 5, 2012
NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors and the Natchez Board of Aldermen decided Tuesday to set up a joint meeting with the Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission in an effort to recapture lost momentum.
Supervisor David Carter, who served on the commission before he was elected and is now the board’s liaison to the commission, said the countywide recreation effort has stalled and that two commission members have only been to one meeting since their appointment months ago.
“Three years ago this was a red hot topic, and it has pretty much gone cold,” Carter said. “Once you get stagnant on that, it is pretty much a dead issue.”
Commission Chair Tate Hobdy said earlier this year the commission was waiting for city elections to be over before moving forward, and Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said the board has received a report from Hobdy.
“We need to talk about where we are going and what direction we are taking,” Grennell said.
The county has dissolved its former recreation commission, and Grennell said the plan was to eventually hand over the maintenance of the county parks to the recreation commission.
Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said the city has $1.1 million allocated for recreation in the coming year, but it is not enough.
One possibility the city could consider — though Brown stressed it was only in the idea stage — is the acquisition of the Beau Pré Country Club, which is facing foreclosure.
“When that happens, that property would be available,” Brown said. “One thought—and it is strictly a thought—was to somehow take over Beau Pré country club as the city-county golf course and then free up space of nine holes in Duncan Park (for a recreation complex), retaining the nine holes that have good paths and drainage for a nine-hole golf course for senior citizens and children.”
The city’s previous pledge of a million dollars for the operation of a recreation complex is still in place, Brown said, though the plan would be for the county to build the complex.
Grennell said he did not have a problem with the county building the complex, but the county has other obligations tied to economic development. One example includes building a levee on the former Belwood Country Club as part of the KiOR recruitment deal, he said.
“We are facing a tremendous amount of future growth in Adams County, which is requiring a financial obligation from the county,” Grennell said. “We are going to have to have various bond issuances on these projects.
“We have these major industrial prospects, which are priority for this community before anything else. If you are going to have a great recreational complex, you are going to have to have these industries.”
The county has to be sure it doesn’t exceed its bond cap, Grennell said.
Brown said he wanted to be clear he wasn’t trying to push the supervisors into a corner about recreation.
In other news:
4Brown informed the supervisors that the City of Natchez would only contribute one officer to Metro Narcotics.
He also requested that money seized by Metro be used to buy the city a drug dog. The funds in question were seized after a Natchez police officer initiated a drug stop, Brown said.
Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said the seized funds in question, approximately $80,000, were considered abandoned, but they had not yet been awarded to Metro by the district attorney’s office.
The supervisors later voted to renew the Metro contract, and Board Attorney Scott Slover said if the city wants to change the terms the aldermen could do so when it came time for them to ratify the agreement.
4The two boards agreed to form a committee of two members from each board to discuss the formation of a city-county beautification program.
4Natchez City Attorney Hyde Carby and Slover told the boards they had worked out an arrangement by which the city and county could collectively request for proposals for garbage pickup contracts together.
The joint request for proposals does not mean contracts will be the same, but it does give the two boards better bargaining power, Brown said.
4Alderwoman Sarah Smith told the supervisors the city had extended its cable franchise contract with CableOne until the county’s expires in June so the two could work together to negotiate a new contract with more leverage.