Another $15K approved for Forks project

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; It’s been a funding roller coaster ride, but it appears the state Board of Archives and History has decided to give the City of Natchez $130,000 to fund the acquisition of &045; and a sign at &045; the Forks of the Road.

Concerned citizens and local governments have pushed for the National Park Service to erect an interpretive center on the property at Liberty Road and St. Catherine Street, the site of a 19th-century slave market.

&uot;First, they (the Archives and History Board) were going to give us $250,000, then they were going to give us nothing, then it was $115,000, and now finally it’s $130,000,&uot; City Attorney Walter Brown said.

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Not that Brown, who received news of the approval Saturday, is complaining.

The $130,000 grant should be enough to reimburse the city fully for its $95,000 cost of buying the site and $25,000 to place interpretive signs at the site.

The remainder of the money would be used for such things as demolishing an existing building and cleaning up and maintaining the site, Brown said, adding &uot;we should get the check in the next week to 10 days.&uot;

As soon as the city closes the title to the land, which should happen in the next 30 years, city and Park Service officials should meet to discuss what type of signage should be erected to recognize the site.

Recently, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove signed into law Senate Bill 2997, which authorizes the City of Natchez to convey the property to the Park Service after sale documents are complete.

But Keith Whisenant said that to accept the title to the site, Congress would have to approve legislation to that effect.

&uot;That’s probably true, but they can make recommendations (on signage) even before that,&uot; Brown said.