Vision Natchez group looks for next project

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Looking to keep up the momentum just more than a week after a successful community-wide cleanup, members of Vision Natchez are looking for their next project.

A small group met Monday evening for a brain-storming session on what the next step should be.

Rena Jean Schmeig, who worked with community consultant Dr. Vaughn Grisham to get the group off the ground, said his advice is to turn the group’s energy into jobs.

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Natchez-Adams Economic Development Authority Director Mike Ferdinand told the group about some of things the group could do to help promote economic development, such as lobby the Legislature for programs that would help create jobs or foster an incentive fund from private donations.

&uot;Any ideas that could help enhance the community would be greatly appreciated,&uot; he said.

The group also discussed looking at long-range plans for some kind of children’s entertainment and short-range plans for encouraging local groups to adopt tree wells downtown.

Many of the group members agreed that the community needs more activities, and Schmeig suggested looking at what could be done along the riverfront.

The city has been trying to solicit a developer for the old pecan factory building but has received a variety of proposals beyond just recreation, Ferdinand said.

Officials are also looking at a Rails to Trails grant that would help bring a walking path along the riverfront and bluff.

&uot;We probably need to look at what the city has proposed,&uot; Michael Winn said. &uot;It’s just a matter of us doing it.&uot;

As for a short-term project, adopting tree wells would be a way for the group to help clean up downtown before the celebration for the opening of the last eight miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway, scheduled for May 21.

The group also discussed filling downtown empty storefronts with murals or displays depicting upcoming events or historical events.

Vision Natchez is under the auspices of the Community Alliance, itself an offshoot of the chamber of commerce.

Late last month the group held a community-wide cleanup on a Saturday morning which attracted dozens of volunteers throughout the city and county.

And Vision Natchez members said Monday the cleanup included more than just the volunteers they could count.

&uot;I talked to people who said they just cleaned up their yards,&uot; Eric Glatzer said.