Casino show didn’t pan out as promised

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Three and a half years ago, the City of Natchez touted its greatest development prospect in recent memory — a $48 million casino development on the riverfront at foot of Roth Hill.

Leaders with the Lane Company — then the lead developer — suggested they had the financial resources to start the project immediately and expected to be completed with the first phase by November 2007.

Once operational, Lane promised to donate $1 million to the city — in addition to the annual lease payment for the city-owned riverfront property.

Alderman Bob Pollard, one of four aldermen who voted to grant a lease option to Lane, said at the time, “I am proud to be part of the team that will bring Natchez back to prosperity, and I promise Natchez will be a better place.”

Three years after the hype and the site still sits undeveloped. Lane Company officials apparently no longer lead the development work.

Instead a new group, Premier Gaming Group, is in the lead, though their Web site indicates a direct relationship with Lane.

Obviously, much has happened in the world’s economy since December 2006, when Lane first appeared here.

However, since little tangible progress seems to have resulted, the city would be wise to quickly consider other development options.

Why not publicly announce that the city will accept new requests for proposals in 60 days?

Any would-be developers should be made to show tangible evidence that they have the financial resources to do what they say they can do, without further delay.

If the city doesn’t move soon, we may look up and realize another year has passed and one of the most beautiful locations in the area still sits unused.