House OKs bill to allow city to lease bean field

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 29, 2001

As city, county and school district officials met Wednesday to discuss joint plans for a recreation complex, a bill allowing lease of the property made its way to the governor’s desk.

Sen. Bob M. Dearing, D-Natchez, said the bill to allow the city to lease land on the Natchez Trace Parkway known as the bean field passed the House of Representatives Wednesday. The Senate approved the bill unanimously last week.

Confident the bill would pass – and that the National Park Service will lease the land – representatives of the Natchez Board of Aldermen, the Adams County Board of Supervisors and the Natchez-Adams School District met for the second time to discuss what recreational facilities they envision for the site.

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&uot;The purpose of this meeting is to put on the table what each group would like to see accomplished out there,&uot; said Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot;&160;Smith.

Conceptual plans ordered by the city include soccer and ballfields, a walking track, a &uot;lazy river&uot; and picnic pavilions.

Supervisors Thomas &uot;Boo&uot; Campbell and Darryl Grennell said the county board would also like to see a horse arena incorporated in the plans.

&uot;Since we’re at the planning stage, I would like to see that included,&uot; Campbell said.

School district representatives Kenneth Taylor, Wayne Barnett and Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis said they like the idea of a show arena, as long as horses would not be boarded there due to the proximity of the high school.

Barnett said the school district has had plans for some time to build tennis courts and a natatorium, or indoor swimming facility, on school property near the county barn.

To avoid duplicating facilities, Smith suggested making construction of the natatorium a joint project that would also serve the general public.

Taylor said he was concerned a public natatorium on school grounds might present a liability problem for the school district because it would be used outside of school hours.

&uot;The natatorium might be best suited in the new complex, especially if we want to open it up to more of the community,&uot; he said.

Jake Middleton, Ward 6 alderman and recreation chairman, said one of the goals of the recreation complex is to move all ballplaying out of Duncan Park and use the created space to build additional tennis courts.

In such case, Taylor said the school district could still construct tennis courts at Natchez High for practice and teaching but use the city courts at Duncan Park for tournaments.

Other suggestions for the complex included a skateboard and scooter park, additional basketball courts and RV hookups.

Davis relayed a suggestion from Natchez resident Robert McGhee that Alcorn State University and Copiah-Lincoln Community College be involved in the planning stages.

Grennell agreed, saying Co-Lin’s Natchez campus could benefit from the complex as well.

Smith said the thought had occurred to him as well. &uot;If this gets into a grant situation, the more partners you have and the broader your support, the more attention you’re going to get and the better chance you have,&uot; he said.

Representatives of the three boards agreed to meet again next week on the Natchez High campus. At the suggestion of Middleton, both the city’s and the school district’s conceptual plans for recreation will be presented.

Representatives of the park service plan to visit Natchez and tour the bean field property next month.