Diversity not disagreements should be focus

Published 1:11 am Sunday, June 3, 2007

Natchez’s downtown is a unique blend of culture, entertainment, history and home life.

Like a fantastic Frankenstein-like creature, the strange hodge-podge of people, places and things comes to life each morning.

But downtown Natchez lives and breathes not in spite of its diverse face, but because of it.

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For decades and decades, enough flexibility has existed there to allow people from radically different walks of life to co-exist alongside one another.

Nightclubs often are a stone’s throw away from churches; retail stores share roofs with personal dwellings. Most of the time all of these divergent pieces of downtown live in harmony.

Occasionally, however, two of these parts begin to bump heads with one another. Such is the case with a Main Street nightclub and its nearby neighbors.

The neighbors are complaining about noise and trash allegedly created by the club’s patrons. They have a good argument: downtown needs to be nice place to live.

The club’s owner correctly points out that he’s operating in an area zoned for commercial development and is working to avoid the problems. He’s correct, too: downtown needs a nightlife as well as daytime retail.

So both sides are technically right and yet both sides feel wronged.

Perhaps the only true solution will be through coming together to civilly discuss the matters and attempt to reach some common ground.

Going forward, Natchez leaders need to consider whether or not to zone a particular area town specifically designated for night entertainment purposes. Perhaps only then would we begin to avoid the occasional head bumping.

Regardless, however, it’s important to remember the charm of downtown Natchez is in its diversity, not its occasional disagreements.