City, county leaders consider recreation options

Published 11:19 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2009

NATCHEZ — A city and county committee hasn’t settled on a U.S. 61 South recreation complex just yet.

Though developers have said they’ll donate 50 acres of land just south of Trinity Episcopal Day School to a facility, Mayor Jake Middleton said other options are still on the table.

The 61 South land may be available, but it would need a good deal of work, the mayor said.

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“There’s going to be a lot of infrastructure that’s going to have to be done — water, sewer, electrical,” he said.

But it’s also necessary to do prepping of the land, City Engineer David Gardner said.

“It’s going to take a fair share of work to level the area for development of a recreation complex,” he said.

Gardner said the land is currently not level and is somewhat hilly.

“It’s going to require a lot of earthwork, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary,” he said. “It’s just pushing dirt.”

In fact, the slopes and ranges of land could be used to the complex’s advantage.

“I envision maybe creating a recreation complex that could utilize multiple elevation plateaus, where the construction costs could be minimized, so it’d be a lot more affordable,” he said.

That’s after a design has been put together and financing is in place, however.

County Supervisor Mike Lazarus said it’s too preliminary to be discussing design and financing at this point.

Lazarus said this is only the beginning of the discussion, and Supervisor Darryl Grennell said it’s going to take a decision by both boards before any action is taken.

He said a meeting should be set up between both boards.

“I think the (recreation) committee needs to make a presentation to both boards so we can determine if we agree with that site or give charge to the committee to look at any other sites,” Grennell said.

And when the time comes to vote on a property, Grennell said the vote needs to be unanimous.

“In this case, two bodies of government need to be unanimous on the issue in order to sell it to the people to get support,” he said. “If we have to do a bond issue, that involves selling the idea to the residents, to the community.”

The recreation committee — which includes Middleton and Lazarus — has been meeting for several months and is discussing a recreation complex that includes walking trails and baseball and soccer fields.

Tennis and golf will remain at Duncan Park, but tennis will be expanded.

The project is slated to cost approximately $5 million or less, Lazarus said.

Despite Supervisor Thomas “Boo” Campbell stating on Monday that the project would cost $10 million, Lazarus said it will cost less than $5 million.