$300,000 requested for Trails from casinoPublished 12:07am Wednesday, May 15, 2013
NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez will soon be cashing in on a $300,000 commitment Magnolia Bluffs Casino made when it negotiated its lease with the city.
The Natchez Board of Aldermen directed City Clerk Donnie Holloway to invoice the $300,000 the casino committed to the Natchez Trails Project to complete the Bridge of Sighs project.
The bridge, Gardner said, will closely replicate the old pedestrian bridge once at the top of Silver Street. He said it would be made of metal instead of wood, though.
The bridge will also have down-facing lighting and fencing that will be a continuation of the fencing on the bluff.
The bridge, its lighting, construction and other costs will total approximately $382,185.
In addition to the bridge, the project will include installing 400-amp electrical panels near Cock of the Walk restaurant, the gazebo and nature trails, in case the city wants to light those trails in the future.
Including the electrical hook-ups will add approximately $106,000 to the project, Gardner said.
“But if we’re ever going to be serious about our bluff, this is going to be it.”
The Bridge of Sighs project total cost is approximately $537,000.
The city has received approximately $290,000 in funding, and the $300,000 from the casino will allow for a surplus that could be used for the public restroom planned for the former railroad depot renovation.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis asked how Gardner planned to offset the electricity costs that will be associated with offering event organizers and vendors more power on the bluff.
Gardner said he imagines it will come from permit fees for renting space. He said calculations would have to be done to figure out the appropriate permitting fee so the electricity costs will be offset.
Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard asked about the possibility of installing a water supply on the bluff, and Gardner said that could be done in-house by Natchez Water Works.
Dillard said with water and electricity options for events on the bluff, it could become a premier venue.
Mayor Butch Brown said many of the 2016 tricentennial events would be on the bluff to highlight the area.
Gardner said the Bridge of Sighs project should be completed by the tricentennial.
Ward 2 Alderman Ricky Gray requested Holloway review the casino’s lease agreement to see when the other money committed by the casino will become available.
In other news from the meeting:
4The city adopted a joint fire plan with Adams County to provide fire protection for county residents for which the county will pay the city $635,243 per year. The Adams County Board of Supervisors adopted the plan Monday.
4The board granted Community Development Director James Johnston permission to seek grant funding to alleviate the sewer problems on U.S. 61 South and Highland Boulevard. Johnston said the mayor is also working to have the situation declared an emergency in order to obtain funding.
4The board granted Johnston approval to work with the Natchez Police Department to apply for a $30,000 grant to purchase bulletproof vests. The grant would require a 50-percent match.
4Natchez Tourism Director Connie Taunton told the board, when asked by Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith, that the CVB had hired Lynsey Smith as director of sales. Smith asked whether the hire needed approval from the board, and the mayor said the CVB has its own board that approves hire.
4During his report, Ward 2 Alderman Ricky Gray cautioned department heads to follow the city’s personnel policy regarding hiring and firing employees, regardless of whether they operated as an independent entity such as the CVB or Natchez Water Works.
Gray said the city would be on the hook for a lawsuit filed, not an individual city-owned entity.
4The board voted to donate the lot at 727 Martin Luther King Jr. St. to the nonprofit Mid-South Housing Foundation for development as part of Chartre Consulting’s scattered site housing project downtown.
4The board voted at the request of Gardner to contract with B&B Electrical to maintain streetlights and traffic signals inherited from the Mississippi Department of Transportation on highway corridors. The contract is for one year and is not to exceed $1,500 per month. The money will come from the traffic department’s escrow account, which is used for the same purpose.
4The board approved travel to Europe for the mayor to visit the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands with the Miss-Lou Regionalism Initiative in August.
Brown, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland, Natchez and Concordia Parish economic development officials and state officials will be traveling to the port to view Rotterdam, the largest port in Europe, for ideas and practices to bring back to ports along the Mississippi River, Brown said.