City readies wish list for legislators

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2000

A bigger Duncan Park Golf Course, a smaller board for the Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority and a longer Natchez Trace Parkway are among requests Natchez city officials will be making to the state Legislature this year.

The Legislature’s &uot;long session&uot; — 125 days rather than 90 — has begun, but the deadline for new bills is not until Feb. 21. Still, city officials are working to get their requests in early.

Because this is the first session of a new Legislature, it is extended to 125 days.

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Among the city’s requests this year:

— A bond issue to help improve the Duncan Park Golf Course, making it a satellite of the Natchez State Park.

Golf course manager Marvin Gray said improvements and renovations would benefit everyone in the community.

&uot;This can be an important factor in a company’s deciding to move to a community, or people deciding to retire to a community,&uot; he said. &uot;There are also the health and fitness benefits.&uot;

City Attorney Walter Brown said the legislation is not finalized, but the city could ask for a $2 million to $3 million bond issue for the project.

Gray said the plan would give Natchez &uot;two top golf facilities&uot; in Duncan Park and at Beau Pr\u00E9.

&uot;We have plenty of room to grow,&uot; he said.

— City officials, working with the Federal Highway Administration, Mississippi Department of Transportation and Natchez Trace Parkway, hope to ask legislators for $8 million to secure necessary rights-of-way to complete the Trace.

The historic Natchez-to-Nashville route originally began in Natchez, but now stops just short of the city limits. Money is already available to build the rest of the parkway, but money is not available to purchase about 14 parcels of land for the rights-of-way for the project.

Natchez Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown said the land is about 80 acres from St. Catherine Creek to Liberty Road.

The rights-of-way will help complete the parkway four miles past U.S. 84/98 with an interchange at Liberty Road.

Eventually, city officials hope to end the Trace at the bluffs at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

— The city is still working with the county to determine plans for a revamped Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority. Since former Executive Director Andi Quartey left early last year, the future of the authority — which has a 15-member board — has been in jeopardy.

Preliminary plans call for a five-member board for the organization, made up of two members appointed by the city, two appointed by the county and a fifth appointed jointly.

— City officials will also be asking for the state to foot the bill for nighttime security at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

Mayor Brown said an original agreement called for the state Department of Transportation to provide overnight security at the center — a service provided at each state welcome center.

But the uniqueness of the visitors center — it is a city-owned facility that houses city, state and federal offices — caused a problem.

MDOT can’t pay for the $30,000 in security, Brown said, because the facility is not owned by the state.

&uot;We’ve never had a precedent for this before,&uot; he said. &uot;The state had agreed to pay for the security, then they found out they legally could not.&uot;

The city and National Park Service, which also has offices in the building, provide daytime security with uniformed police and rangers, but the city contracts for nighttime security.

Although security is not required at welcome centers or rest areas, Brown said it is &uot;certainly something we want to provide.&uot;