Natchez needs to act fast to use funds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

Winding beneath Natchez’s downtown is a unique &045; maybe even uniquely beautiful, considering what it is &045; architectural structure.

The drainage system that has served that part of the city for more than a century is in decay. Just about a year ago, the canal under the appropriately named Canal Street caved in, taking part of the street and sidewalk in front of the post office with it.

So here’s the good news: The U.S. Corps of Engineers has approved $8 million in grant funding for the project, which would improve the drainage system downtown as well as in north Natchez.

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Here’s the bad news: The city has to come up with a $2 million match for the project.

(That’s especially bad news if you are, say, an incumbent running for re-election.)

Talk about being between a rock and an aging brick wall.

The city must make the drainage improvements. The Canal Street work alone could save the city money and headaches in the future. And north Natchez, often neglected, needs some help as well.

The city does have options: asking the Legislature to pass a bill designating Canal a gaming road; lobbying Congress for more money; and coming up with a bond issue to fund the match.

While the city does have some time &045; six to eight months of paperwork &045; to come up with a solution, that isn’t a lot of time when you’re talking about $2 million. In fact, it could even fall to a new administration, depending on how elections turn out.

We urge the city makes a strong effort now &045; whether through lobbying or other means &045; to take care of this problem before we leet $8 million go down the drain.