Recreation needs coach, players

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Where is former Natchez Mayor Hank Smith when we need him? Smith was often criticized during his term for things he couldn’t do, but one thing is certain: Smith and his team knew how to “play ball” with others.

Often criticized for being the antithesis of his predecessor Larry L. “Butch” Brown, Smith may have struggled at times under the enormity of running the City of Natchez.

But Smith and then-city attorney Walter Brown did something that neither Brown nor current Mayor Phillip West accomplished: Getting city, county and school district officials to agree recreation needs.

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While Brown may have been in office when the original “beanfield” project was first planted, it was under Smith’s reign that the project began to take root.

All that was needed was for a measure to be put on the ballot to fund it. Yes, that means a countywide tax bond issue.

As much as we’d like to think the City of Natchez could just magically be able to pay for a $15 million facility alone, as Mayor West suggests. That’s a bit pie in the sky from our perspective.

We hope the city is correct and funds from the yet to be built casino at Roth Hill come through. But it would be foolish to hire a consultant to create an elaborate plan without fixed, concrete funding.

The time has come for the City of Natchez to stop charging ahead with ideas that sound good and resolve itself to play ball with the others on the playground — the county and the school district.

To residents, tax money is tax money and it certainly would be good if we could all agree to play on the same team. Just ask Coach Smith.