Building sports complex could be complicated

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 12, 2001

City, county and school district officials learned Thursday that building a multi-million dollar recreation complex planned for property near Natchez High School known as the &uot;beanfield&uot; may be more complicated than they thought.

Representatives of the National Park Service, which owns the approximate 109 acres, met with local officials to tour the site and discuss an expected lease agreement. Much of the discussion centered around a portion of the property believed to be the site of a French encampment that was burned when during the Natchez Indian Uprising of 1789.

Rather than go through the time and expense of an archeological survey, city officials, under the advisement of local archeologist Beth Bogguss, hope to leave the site untouched and build around it.

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&uot;I would much prefer we determine what the boundaries of the site are rather than do a full-scale excavation,&uot; Bogguss said. &uot;We wouldn’t be able to use it anyway.&uot;

Craig Stubblefield, chief of resource management for the park service, agreed marking off the site is the first priority.

Stubblefield said he does not believe the park service has the authority to lease land that could be eligible for the National Register. But there may be more than one historic site within the property requiring archeological attention, Bogguss said.

A red and white ribbon marks where archeologists believe sat an English dwelling, possibly connected with the French encampment.

And bone fragments discovered in past surveys combined with the history of the uprising require that regional American Indian tribes be given the option of consulting on plans for the property.

&uot;It seems like they’ve expanded the boundaries of what may be eligible for the historic register,&uot; Supervisor Darryl Grennell said after the meeting.

City Attorney Walter Brown said the meeting just brought forth &uot;a few more specifics&uot; about what will be involved in leasing the property, but the archeological complexities are to be expected in a region as rich in history as southwest Mississippi.

Ward 6 Alderman and recreation chairman Jake Middleton said the historical requirements are &uot;hurdles&uot; that would be part of any large-scale project.

&uot;Anything of this size is never easy, but I don’t see any hurdles we can’t get over here,&uot; he said.