Cautious optimism on city bond bill

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A measure that would authorize $10 million in bonds to help revitalize Natchez’s downtown area passed a major hurdle this week when the House approved the bill.

While it is still a long way from being signed into law, the success so far gives us, as Mayor Phillip West said, hope for the future.

In fact, just having such a measure pushed by local leaders gives us hope for the future.

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This is a major project that could help make our downtown area &045; already bustling thanks to restaurants, antique stores, gift shops and other businesses &045; take the next step.

Those close to the project say the money would be used to make grants to improve facades of downtown buildings. This would also be a big boost for the city’s efforts at beautification.

We admit we’re very cautious in our optimism about the bill’s passage, especially as it comes at a time when the state is strapped for cash and other bond bills were heavily debated at a special session just last fall.

But the proposal of the bill &045; and the plans behind it &045; are enough to show that we are ready to make things happen in Natchez.

When you think about it, it makes sense for the state to approve such major legislation for Natchez. Continuing the cleanup of downtown would help boost tourism not only for our community but for the entire state. Natchez is one of the most recognized Mississippi cities around the world, and it is certainly one of the most visited in the state. We help raise our state’s profile among tourists all over the world &045; and a project like major downtown revitalization would only improve that image.

We hope lawmakers will be able to pass the bill, but if they don’t, we hope city officials don’t give up on this project.