Natchez’s to-do list sees progress

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A spring-cleaning bug must have hit the we-ought-to-do list in Natchez recently.

You know the list I’m talking about. It’s the one we all mentally add to each time we hit the streets and open our eyes.

Everyone’s list is slightly different, but I suspect a few things overlap on most.

For instance, if you drive into Natchez from Vidalia and get stopped at the red light, your eyes wander to the grassy median and you likely say to yourself, “Somebody ought to clean up this mess of cigarette butts.”

Others I know are on many lists: “This grass ought to be cut more often.” “That billboard ought to come down.”

Sometimes-disgruntled residents like us tend to complain from our cars, but forget that the city department responsible for whatever ails us likely has its own written list as well. And perhaps that list is being addressed, one issue at a time as money, staffing and hours in the day allow.

Perhaps the beautiful spring sun simply illuminated things Tuesday, but a quick drive around town showed me that some “ought-tos” are becoming “dones.”

All three of the dilapidated houses that sit across Canal Street from The Democrat’s offices are now boarded up.

As recently as three weeks ago, people were coming at going from one of the houses at midnight. I’m guessing they weren’t rent payers.

Next, let’s add serious renovation or demolition to the list.

Drive on down Canal Street and you’ll see a new shiny blue street sign pointing in the direction of the Natchez Visitor and Reception Center.

Better signage has long been a need in our tourist town. It’s great to see this simple addition in a heavily trafficked area.

City Engineer David Gardner said he hopes to be able to include more such signs in the future.

On Main Street, the windows of the corner building formerly occupied by a children’s clothing store are now full of good-looking banners promoting the sights and sounds of Natchez.

What a great use of abandoned storefronts. The banners not only camouflage the empty interior, but also make passersby stop and look.

And last, but not least, the long-complained-about city streets are being repaved.

Nearly every downtown roadway is the subject of repairs, sidewalks now have wheelchair accessibility and the Canal Street hump is really more of a smooth molehill.

The roadwork is ill timed, sure, but since it is federally funded the government set the timetable, not Natchez.

The headache won’t last as long as the smooth roads, and the end effect will be a better downtown.

In addition to the completion of several key ought-tos, if you poked your head downtown Tuesday you saw a crowd. Tourists and locals filled the sunny streets, and our sleepy little town looked like the tourist hub it should be once again.

Winter was long and rainy this year. The azaleas still haven’t made their grand appearance.

But maybe Mother Nature was just giving Natchez time to catch up its to-do list.

The list never goes away, nor should it, but it’s nice to see a few visible checkmarks. Now we can focus on the last few weeks of Pilgrimage and the first glorious days of spring and summer.

You ought to, you know.

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or