Still long road ahead for recreation

Published 12:07am Thursday, February 6, 2014

The City of Natchez took a significant, and much appreciated, positive step Tuesday toward improving recreation in the community.

With a simple vote, Natchez aldermen agreed to join the Adams County Board of Supervisors in working together on recreation.

The city’s part includes turning over its recreation budget to an as-yet-unhired city-county recreation director.

The idea behind this is simple: Working together makes sense, and rather than duplicating services — which are used by both city and county residents — a consolidated recreation plan is smart.

While a step in the right direction, we still contend the city and county must work to find funding for improvements to the community’s recreation facilities, most of which are badly outdated and have long passed their useful life.

Instead of focusing on recreation, both the city and county have given it lip service, but stopped short of actually putting additional dollars into building new recreational facilities.

Both sets of public officials argue no money exist for such things. Taxpayers see increased sales tax receipts and a new $1 million annual lease payment from a casino going into city coffers. In addition, taxpayers see the county spending millions to acquire land and buildings in the name of economic development — which all may be well and good.

Yet recreation continues to take a back burner.

Agreeing to hire a new recreation director to oversee both city and county recreation departments is a good step; a much longer journey is required to truly make a community-changing impact.

We urge city and county leaders to move the process along further and meet publicly to plan actual improvements to recreational infrastructures.