Rec plans may involve higher ed

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 1, 2001

Higher education may be the newest partner drawn into plans for a multi-million recreational complex in Natchez. Representatives from the City of Natchez, Adams County and the Natchez-Adams School District agreed last week to request the help of Alcorn State University and Copiah-Lincoln Community College in designing the complex sited for 109 acres near Natchez High School.

School district Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis relayed a suggestion from Natchez resident Robert McGhee that the area colleges might consider donating their services to designing the complex.

Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said the thought had occurred to him as well. He suggested the schools’ graduate programs perhaps could take on some of the landscape engineering and planning work.

Adams County Supervisor and Alcorn professor Darryl Grennell agreed, saying Co-Lin’s Natchez campus could also benefit from the complex by expanding their physical education courses.

&uot;If this gets into a grant situation,&uot; Smith said, &uot;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;

Also at the meeting, representatives of the three boards discussed ways to avoid duplicating recreational facilities, specifically with an indoor swimming facility, or natatorium.

Wayne Barnett, director of student activities, said the school district has had plans for some time to build a natatorium and tennis courts on the NHS campus.

Smith said the city did not want to include a natatorium in plans for the complex if the school district facility could be used by the general public.

School board member Kenneth 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.

Central to conceptual plans for the complex are several ballparks. Jake Middleton, Ward 6 alderman and recreation chairman, said one of the goals of the 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.

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.