Beanfield agreement unveiled

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 30, 2001

Adams County and the Natchez-Adams County School District would plan, fund, maintain and operate a joint recreation program for the whole county under a rough draft of an agreement unveiled Wednesday.

City Attorney Walter Brown presented a rough draft of the agreement to aldermen, supervisors and school district members in a joint meeting Wednesday in the city’s council chambers.

&uot;This (draft) is just a starting point to look at,&uot; said Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith. Members of the three boards and their attorneys will review the first draft and convene again by mid-September to discuss what changes need to be made to the agreement.

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But under the current draft of the agreement, the presidents of the three boards and two other members from each board would serve on a council. The council would begin meeting within 30 days after the agreement is finally approved by the three boards.

About 90 days from then, the council would submit a plan spelling out the recreational facilities and programs the boards hope to develop.

For example, a new swimming pool – or pools – is an item many in attendance said must be developed.

Once the council has spelled out a recreation plan and the three boards have approved it, officials will get cost estimates for the proposed facilities and programs.

As it now stands, local officials plan to place the plan on the ballot for November 2002, telling voters how much funding would be needed for specific projects – and asking voters to approve funding the projects.

The ballot &uot;will outline a proposal to levy (property tax) mills on a countywide basis for ‘x’ things,&uot; Brown said.

If it is approved by voters, funding could be secured and construction could begin as soon as December 2002.

The recreation programs and facilities would then be run by a joint countywide recreation council with members appointed by the Board of Aldermen, the Board of Supervisors and the Natchez-Adams County School Board.

Officials in attendance were vocal about the need for some type of recreation plan.

&uot;When it comes to developing such a plan, we’ve sat back and sat back,&uot; said Natchez Alderman Jake Middleton. &uot;It’s time for us to pull together and do something.&uot;

&uot;The people … are depending on us to do this,&uot;&160;said Supervisor Lynwood Easterling, with Supervisor Darrell Grennell adding that &uot;this is a move in the right direction.&uot;

&uot;This would send a positive signal through the state that we can work together, that we’re not divided,&uot;&160;said Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot;&160;West. Bringing children together for recreation will bring parents – and the whole community together, he said.

And Smith stressed that developing recreation is crucial for economic development.

Meanwhile, Smith said it appears that a 25-year lease could be worked out with the National Park Service for the &uot;beanfield&uot;&160;property near Natchez High. That agreement would also include an option to extend the lease for another 25 years.

Smith also said that those working on an archaeological study of the &uot;beanfield&uot; near Natchez High – the site of the proposed St. Catherine Creek Recreational Complex – should submit results of the study in the next 30 to 60 days.