Tuesday party to kick off trails project

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; From an idea presented two years ago to the Community Alliance, the Natchez Trails Project has grown to near reality &8212; on paper, that is.

But that the plans are drawn and details itemized is good news, and the committee that has worked to get to this point wants to share the successes with the community.

&8220;These well-designed trails will be something that everyone can utilize, whether walking, running or just sitting on a bench enjoying the view of the river,&8221; said Millicent Mayo, who in March 2004 brought to the Alliance the idea of better signs and better walking routes for tourists visiting Natchez.

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On Tuesday, 5 to 6:30 p.m., the Natchez Alliance Trails Project Subcommittee will host a community-wide party to celebrate the trails kickoff with food, music and fun, Mayo said. &8220;We invite everyone to come. Bring the family to the gazebo on the bluff.&8221;

Drawings to show details of some proposed trails will be available, as well as a copy of the grant that will be submitted through the Mississippi Department of Transportation to seek federal funds for the project.

In addition to those funds, City Grants Coordinator Brett Brinegar also is applying for a grant through U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering&8217;s office.

At Bowie&8217;s, corner of Main and Broadway streets, the Trails Project PowerPoint presentation will be available for viewing during the Tuesday celebration.

The Natchez Trails Projects is multi-faceted, Mayo said.

It includes downtown sidewalk walking tour trails as well as walking, jogging and biking trails along the riverfront.

Further, a project known as &8220;Museum of the Streets&8221; will include construction of kiosks throughout the downtown trails to provide historical and other information as well as historical illustrations.

The downtown sidewalk walking tour trails will be divided into two sections, Mayo said.

&8220;They will be color coded with mileage on markers. Anyone can then easily choose one of two trails, walk a scenic route of downtown and also burn off calories, according to the trail that has been chosen,&8221; Mayo said.

The riverfront trails, a total of 2.75 miles, will be three tiers, from top of the bluff to mid-bluff to river walk. &8220;The walkway will begin at the gazebo on top of the bluff at Broadway Street and will parallel the river along each tier,&8221; Mayo said.

&8220;The entire walkway will be lighted to provide safety and security and will have rest areas located along the path,&8221; she said.

Tammi Gardner, director of Natchez Downtown Development and a member of the Trails Project committee, said walking trails sponsorships are available.

Sponsorships will go toward matching grant money the Alliance receives for the project. They start with the Corporate Platinum $10,000-plus donation, which puts the company logo and name on a trailhead sign, trail brochures and maps, to other corporate sponsorships of $5,000 and $2,500.

Other sponsorships available include:

4Shining Star, $1,000 to $2,500, putting a private name or company on a metal star permanently embedded in the sidewalk near the trailhead.

4Bench Donation, $1,000 to $2,000, limited to 20 private sponsors and including a plaque inscribed with a donor&8217;s name on a bench.

4Brick Donation, $500 each, for a name included on a brick that will be part of the design at the trailhead entrance.

&8220;These are only suggested major sponsorships,&8221; Gardner said.

&8220;We will take any donation. We want any donation, whatever anyone can give.&8221;

The Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce organized the Community Alliance as a way to counter the negative impact of such blows to the Natchez economy as the July 2003 closing of International Paper&8217;s Natchez mill.