City has contract for Forks property

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

In the nick of time, the City of Natchez has signed a contract to buy the most significant piece of property at the site of the Forks of the Road.

The Forks property in downtown Natchez is the site of one of the South’s largest slave markets. It is of great value as an African-American heritage tourist site, but more important it holds great significance in the history of every Natchez resident.

Three landowners had parcels of property at the site &045; and had an informal agreement not to sell piecemeal. But when one of the landowners sold out to another, the deal for that large piece of property was possible.

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City aldermen wasted no time congratulating themselves on Tuesday, when the contract was announced.

And they blamed critics &045; mostly supporters of recognizing the site &045; who had complained aldermen were dragging their feet on the project.

Aldermen need to understand that criticism comes from supporters’ intense desire to see this project to completion. Supporters of recognizing the site need to realize that no major project in Natchez has happened overnight. The convention center, arguably one of the largest undertakings in the past few years, was in discussion for decades before any ground was broken.

Perhaps we can now move forward with this project, working together to ensure that this project is completed.

If they have not already, aldermen need to sit down with the Friends of the Forks of the Road and with National Park Service officials to determine a course of action for the Forks site.

This, more than others in recent years, is a project whose very nature would benefit from the cooperation of various groups &045; and our community would benefit from that cooperation as well.