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Casino developers enlist help for park, botanical garden

NATCHEZ — The group responsible for developing a casino at the foot of Roth Hill is enlisting the help of city officials to develop plans for an accompanying park and botanical garden.

Premier Gaming Group President Kevin Preston e-mailed city officials about scheduling a brainstorming meeting.

“Over the course of the last few months we have been finalizing our plans for the casino and have come to a point where we have a final rendering,” the e-mail read. “However, as we focus on the park and botanical gardens aspect, we thought it would be nice to have some local people involved in creating this part of the project with our architectural team.

“From our standpoint, we thought it would be nice to have some Natchez residents involved to provide some true value into the park/garden aspect of the project.”

City Building Inspector Paul Dawes requested Preston send landscape architectural renderings of the park and botanical gardens for city officials to review. Dawes said the park was first proposed when the Lane Company was overseeing the casino development. But plans were put on the backburner to focus on the casino itself.

“The (plans) never really went away,” Dawes said.

City Engineer David Gardner said as part of the City of Natchez’s agreement with Premier Gaming Group, the development must include green space.

“We want to have recreational green space (throughout the development) so guests can enjoy the river,” Gardner said. “We emphasized with Premier Gaming that green space has to be a part of the site plan. We wanted to have something recreational and fun aside from gaming.”

Attempts to contact Preston Thursday were unsuccessful.

Both the Natchez Preservation Commission and the Natchez Planning Commission approved the casino’s site plans in January.

Preston said in a previous report construction is slated for completion in January 2011. Rising river levels temporarily prevented engineers from installing pilings in the bluff, which is necessary to build the 38,000 square foot, one-story casino.

Preston was scheduled to submit site plans to the Mississippi Gaming Commission last month, but Gardner said Premier Gaming plans to appear before the gaming commission this month.

“(Premier Gaming) wanted the opportunity to explore more attractive financing, and (the delay) played better into their overall plan,” Gardner said.

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