Natchez gets state money for streets

Published 2:21 pm Tuesday, May 13, 2008

NATCHEZ — The money requested by the city to the legislature to overlay the four major arteries of Natchez has been approved.

In Tuesday’s board of alderman meeting, city lobbyist Camille Young announced the $1.3 million has been appropriated in a letter of intent.

“The letter was finished yesterday,” Young said.

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This money would pay for the resurfacing of Martin Luther King Jr., Homochitto, Franklin and St. Catherine streets.

While the money isn’t directly in the city’s hands, City Engineer David Gardner said having the money accounted for in a letter of intent is a very good thing.

Young said it’s as good as having the money itself.

Mayor Phillip West requested that the city start moving as soon as possible to get things prepared to start overlaying the streets.

Gardner said because the city is receiving so much money and it’s such a large-scale project, the city is going to have to bid on a contractor to do the project. He said that will take time.

The city also received half a million dollars to complete the planning phase for an interpretive center at the Forks of the Road site, Young said.

“The City of Natchez had a really good legislative year,” Young said.

Brett Brinegar, city grant writer, told the board that Natchez has been deemed as a Preserve America Community.

The city will be given this award by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Brinegar said HUD representatives want to personally give the award to the city.

“We’ll be the only community they want to visit personally,” she said.

Brinegar said the representatives are trying to come to Natchez on June 10.

By being established as a Preserve America Community, the city can now apply for Preservation America grants, which deal solely with developing heritage tourism.

Grant monies from this program could be used to build a Forks of the Road interpretative center.

Also, Young announced that Gov. Haley Barbour signed the $2 per occupied hotel room tax on Monday.

It will now come before the city for a vote in the June 3 general election.

The tax, which has been stressed by city tourism representatives, will not be one that affects the citizens of Natchez in anyway other than positive, he said.

In other business, Alderman James “Ricky” Gray made a motion to overlay Vanier Street, if the city has the $28,000 in its coffers to do so.

Alderman David Massey made a friendly amendment to Gray’s motion that the city appropriate funds to fix in a ditch on Lindberg Avenue.

Massey said the ditch is about 30 feet deep and has collected standing water.

“There are mosquitoes everywhere,” Massey said.

Gardner said for $15,000 the ditch could be fixed.

Massey said he’s been trying to get the board to vote on fixing this problem for three years and he said he believes it takes precedent over resurfacing Vanier Street.

He said there have been three cases of West Nile Virus in his ward.

“It’s going to be on your hands if we have another case of West Nile,” Massey said.

The amendment was approved as was the original motion made by Gray.