Most want parks improved

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; For some in Natchez and Adams County, the future of recreation is maintenance and addition. For others, it&8217;s a whole new ball game.

Visions for improving parks and recreation in the area range from small improvements to a new facility.

Installing lights around the volleyball court at Duncan Park is all the improvement Natchez resident William Ernst said he needed.

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&8220;If we could get lights in four trees, it would be enough to play later when it gets cooler.&8221;

Derek Spivey, who plays golf at Duncan Park, said he would like to see the golf course improved a little.

&8220;This is what I do,&8221; Spivey said. &8220;I work and I play golf.&8221;

The course is beautiful, he said, but he would like to see the back part of the course irrigated &8220;It would make it a lot nicer to play out here,&8221; he said.

From the little things to the big ones, Natchez Recreation Director Ralph Tedder said he thinks the county and city must work closer together to make tax dollars go further and get things done.

City residents&8217; taxes go to recreation, but the county and even people from across the river use the facilities, he said.

He said the budget to maintain Natchez&8217;s parks is limited.

&8220;We work with what we&8217;ve got,&8221; Tedder said.

County supervisors president Darryl Grennell said the county pitches in to keep county parks and even some ballparks in the city running.

Grennell said he had his own idea of what recreational facilities the community needs.

&8220;Swimming is just an important survival skill I believe most people should learn,&8221; Grennell said.

He wants to provide that opportunity with a public pool, he said.

The pool at Duncan Park has long since been dry because it could not be maintained, Alderman Jake Middleton said Wednesday.

Middleton, who is head of the city&8217;s recreation committee, said a whole new complex was needed, but it would take time and money.

&8220;My goal is to do a referendum to build a completely new recreation complex, with facilities for things like soccer, baseball, softball, walking trails,&8221; Middleton said Wednesday. &8220;I think it could be a possibility in the future, if things continue to move forward with industrial and commercial prospects we have, to get our tax base up.&8221;

Natchez resident Brent Bourland, who was playing volleyball at Duncan Park Thursday, said he liked the idea of a new, fully equipped complex.

&8220;We have an almost blank slate to put in a first-class facility to cover all sports,&8221; Bourland said. &8220;Recreation improves the quality of life and attracts economic interest.&8221;

He also had an idea to use the empty pool.

&8220;It would be great to convert the Duncan pool into a skateboard park,&8221; he said. &8220;The reason kids skate around town on things they shouldn&8217;t is because there&8217;s no place to do it. They need a place, and the dry Duncan Park pool would be a perfect place for it.&8221;

The coach for the Dixie Youth 12-year-old All-Star team, Boo Brumfield, said he would like to see the fields better maintained.

In the long run, Brumfield said he would like to see a four-field complex built.

&8220;It should be built for the children,&8221; he said.

Middleton said he wanted to see more than just one four-field complex.

&8220;We need a minimum of eight fields, probably 12,&8221; Middleton said.

A new, fully equipped center would cost between $10 and $12 million, he said. Even though it sounds like a lot of money, he said, it can easily be done.

It would be paid for through taxes, he said. People would have to vote to approve the tax, and he recommended taxing county residents, since the center would be available to people in both the city and county.