Natchez must decide on grant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Natchez aldermen must decide soon whether they can afford to accept a recent grant for preservation of the historic Forks of the Road site.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History recently awarded the City of Natchez a $200,000 grant to help purchase the land from private owners for inclusion in the Underground Railroad Southern Roads to Freedom program.

The property located at the intersection of St. Catherine Street and Liberty Road is believed to be the site of one of the largest slave markets prior to the Civil War.

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City Planner David Preziosi said the city applied for $299,000 with no requirement for matching funds from the city, but the grant awarded came to only $200,000 and included several conditions.

In order to receive the money, Preziosi said Archives and History is requiring that the city pay for two independent land appraisals, title work, surveys, legal fees and environmental certification.

In talking with Ward 3 Alderwoman Sue Stedman, who is also a private real estate agent, Preziosi said land appraisals alone could cost as much as $20,000.

Preziosi said the aldermen must decide soon whether they will pay for the required work or decline the $200,000 grant.

&uot;We can either say we can’t accept the grant, and they’ll put it back in the pot and give it to somebody else, or we can accept their conditions,&uot; he said.

Stedman suggested the city find out how much at least one appraisal would cost before making a decision.

In other business, the board:

4Set a public hearing on cable for 5:30 p.m May 1 at council chambers.

City Attorney Walter Brown said he recently received a &uot;626-A notice&uot; from local cable provider Cable ONE.

Brown said the notice sets into motion federal communication law requiring the city hold a public hearing about cable service.

4Named an alley off Madison Street leading up to the city water tower as Mayer Lane for Emergency 911 purposes.

4Approved sale of city-owned property off Martin Luther King Jr. Street known as Club de Lis to Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church for $6,000 plus $4,500 financed over 15 months.

Attorney Brown said the property was donated to the city several years ago and is located adjacent to the church.