Forks site under review

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; A contract is being drawn up for a feasibility study of the Forks of the Road site.

The site, owned by the city, was a slave-trading market in the antebellum era.

Mangi Environmental Group, out of Virginia, will conduct the study, Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Jenkins said Friday.

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Employees from the group toured the site and visited with city and park officials Thursday, Jenkins said.

A review panel made up of two city officials, a member of the Friends of the Forks of the Road and Jenkins chose the company, she said.

Not only did Mangi bid lowest, but they also had experience doing studies for the National Park Service, Jenkins said.

&8220;They&8217;re very excited and enthusiastic about this project,&8221; Jenkins said.

The city received a grant from the U.S. Congress to hire a company to conduct the study. The grant requires the project not cost more than $147,916, City Grants Coordinator Brett Brinegar said.

Mangi bid well below that amount, and the contract for the study is in the process of being drafted, she said.

The group will conduct a historical and archeological investigation, Jenkins said. That will determine if the site qualifies to become part of the park service. The site may become part of the park service or may stay in the city&8217;s hands, depending on what the study finds and what the public says, Jenkins said.

In early November, they will hold an initial public meeting to educate the public about the project and get input, she said.

Then, the company will conduct the study and present preliminary findings in another public meeting.

Afterward, they will come back with final results and present them to the public, Jenkins said.

&8220;The whole study will take one to two years,&8221; Jenkins said. &8220;I hope we have a lot of public involvement and enthusiasm.&8221;