Natchez gets $200K for trails

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

Natchez &8212; It&8217;s official: the White House has signed off on $200,000 in federal funds to help establish a series of walking trails along the Mississippi River bluff.

Connie Taunton, who works as director of visitor services for the Convention and Visitors Bureau and wrote the grant application, said he got the news from Sen. Thad Cochran&8217;s office Monday.

&8220;And that&8217;s wonderful news for us,&8221; said City Engineer David Gardner, who drew up plans for the project.

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However, Gardner said it wasn&8217;t clear as of Wednesday whether the money could only be used as a match for other funds, although he&8217;s seeking clarification from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Planning staff with MDOT, which would administer the funds at the state level, couldn&8217;t be reached Wednesday.

The project, which is being spearheaded by the Community Alliance, includes five planned downtown walking trails with historical and educational markers.

The project would include three riverside trails: a blufftop trail, a middle trail and a trail along the riverbank itself.

It would also include northern downtown trail bounded by High and Main streets and a southern downtown trail bounded by Main and Washington streets. The downtown trail would be marked by signs installed in the sidewalk: green for the northern trail and blue for the southern trail.

Kiosks detailing the history, geology and archeology of the area, including photos of the way downtown looking it bygone days, would be installed along the trails.

This round is only the latest funding the project has received in recent months.

Gardner received word in November the group had gotten a $25,000 no-match grant from the Lower Mississippi Delta Regional Initiative for the project.

The project &8212; conceived by a Community Alliance committee, with plans drawn up by Gardner &8212; would cost an estimated $1.31 million to $1.58 million.