Public to discuss Forks

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, December 11, 2007

NATCHEZ — The future of the Forks of the Road site — whether it should be managed by the city or the National Park Service — will be the topic of discussion at a public hearing at 6 tonight.

A private company, Mangi Environmental Group, will present preliminary results of a boundary survey and get feedback as to what residents would like.

The boundary survey was aimed at determining whether or not the site would meet criteria to be included in the National Park Service — criteria such as whether it has national significance and the feasibility of administrating it.

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“There also have to be environmental studies,” Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Jenkins said. “Whether it’s Natchez or Yellowstone, they all have to go through this process.”

After public feedback, the survey group will incorporate those concerns and present a final survey to the city. The city board will then determine whether or not the site should be in city or federal hands.

“We want people to come and hear this for themselves,” Natchez Grant Manager Brett Brinegar said. “Anybody who’s really interested in the future of the site and wants to have a voice in what happens to the site really needs to come to this meeting.”

The site doesn’t just belong to the city or the federal government, Jenkins said. It belongs to the people, and the people should care about its future.

“The Forks of the Road slave market site is really a tremendously significant site in telling the story of America,” Jenkins said. “There are no slave market sites currently being interpreted in the country. America is a country founded on slavery, and this is a story that’s not being adequately told.”

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the city council chambers on Pearl Street.