The where, what, how of recreation

Published 12:44 am Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It has been a year since the last election. As most know, the community showed an overwhelming desire to have our community investigate the possibility of building a new recreation complex. The vote on the referendum was nearly 80 percent: Four out of every five voters in our community agree that it is time to update our recreational facilities.

As a result of the Interlocal Agreement that our school board, board of supervisors and board of alderman entered into, each entity appointed three people to what is called the Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission. I was appointed by the board of supervisors and serve as secretary of the commission.

Our nine-member board meets most Wednesday afternoons to pursue a common interest that we hope to bring to reality. When we were appointed, we were given the mission to find out “where” and “what” aspects of recreation in our community needed improving, and “how” it would affect us and “how” it would be paid for.

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The answer to “where” is that with the help of the Natchez Trace Parkway and the three boards, we have been able to secure what has been called the “bean field” next to Natchez High School.

A copy of this is available on the minutes of the mayor and board of aldermen for the public to view and has been there since 2002.

There is also land owned by the school board and Adams County that can be utilized in this project.

The bean field does have some archeological, sensitive sites that have already been identified and will not be used in the proposed complex, but there are 37 acres that can be used.

In our opinion, having these sensitive areas is a great plus for the complex. It will ensure that the surrounding area of the complex will be kept in trees and native areas for a perfect buffer on that side of the complex.

The answer to “what” is going to be built is that our commission members have formed “sub-committees” that include local residents who have knowledge in each aspect of recreation. Our efforts have compiled a lot of information. We have traveled to other ball fields in the state and out of state (at our own expense). We have interviewed various architects and selected what we feel to be the most qualified.

We have listened to various experts in different fields to educate the members for future reference. Educating ourselves through this way has informed the commission of a lot different do’s and don’ts to the industry.

Having the state recreation convention in Natchez, several weeks ago, was an added source of information for us. There were numerous vendors and park directors present to help us.

Thanks to the boards’ support financially, we are ready to move forward.

The plan is to continue with the meetings and to get a first phase of the plan together. At that time the committee will present the plan to the boards for their input and hold a public forum for additional input.

Changes will be made and hopefully within 120 days there will be a final master plan.

At that time the task of maintenance, financing and operations will be discussed. It will then be up to your elected and appointed officials to make it happen or not.

I feel as though the wheels of progress are in motion in the correct order in which any venture should follow.

We have the “where” accomplished; and we are working on the “what” and the “how” to be addressed in due time.

Many thanks to our members of the commission, board of alderman, board of supervisors, school board and the residents of the city and county for their overwhelming support.

Clements J. “Bubba” Kaiser is a member of the Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission.