Riverfront park grant denied by MDOT
NATCHEZ — Plans for a riverfront park near Magnolia Bluffs Casino could now be dead since the Mississippi Department of Transportation has denied the city’s grant application for the $2.5 million park.
City Engineer David Gardner said MDOT denied the application because the park did not qualify for the transportation enhancement funds for which the city applied.
The plans included an amphitheater, an in-ground spray fountain, lawn area, a boardwalk connecting to the Natchez Trails Project, playground and garden area.
“We’re in a regrouping stage, and I’m seeing what direction I need to go,” Gardner said. “We’re obviously disappointed in the news, we’re digesting the news and will decide in the near future what to do. The ball is really in the court of the mayor and board of aldermen.”
The city planned 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
Mayor Butch Brown said he is not interested in using the two $300,000 contributions for a park, but he said the decision is ultimately up to the board of aldermen.
Brown added that he is not surprised that the grant was denied.
“It doesn’t make any sense, it violates the entire purpose of transportation enhancement,” he said.
The plans for the park and the decision to apply for the grant were made prior to Brown taking office on July 1.
Premier Gaming Group President Kevin Preston, whose company is developing the casino, said the decision of whether to continue with plans for the park is up to the city.
“The money will goes to the city regardless,” Preston said in an e-mail.