• 61°

What are we waiting on, Natchez?

There wasn’t much to think about the rows of recreation complex drawings displayed in the Grand Hotel Tuesday evening.

A friend I met as I was coming and he was going told me that much.

“What did you think?” I asked.

A shoulder shrug and half frown later, he delivered the answer.

“Should have been built 30 years ago,” he said.

Since I’d already arrived, I went inside anyway, but after a spin around the room and a few short conversations with those involved, I knew my friend had said all there was to say.

Of course a bit of eavesdropping — a talent any good newspaperperson has — inside the hotel proved there were plenty of opinions in the room.

Natchezians who had come to see the recreation drawings envisioned plenty of adjustments — move a tennis court slightly, build a bigger pro shop, get the swimming pool done first, add bike trails.

Ask 100 people and you’ll get 100 opinions, I’m sure.

But all in all, it seemed the nearly 90 folks who had arrived before me were impressed, and rightly so.

The plans include all the basics — baseball diamonds, basketball courts, a pool, a walking trail and a few cool extras.

Supervisor Darryl Grennell pointed out his favorite element — a baseball field built in accordance with the American Disabilities Act that could be easily used by disabled athletes — “the field of miracles.”

Not every idea displayed was a part of Phase 1, and it’s unrealistic to believe that everything pictured will be completed any time soon, but it’s fun to dream.

We are 30 years behind, and we have to start somewhere.

Aside from dozens of minor adjustments to suit the personalities in the room, the other question on everyone’s mind was, “When do we break ground?”

It’s not that easy, of course, there’s the matter of financing, or more specifically, agreeing on financing, to tackle first.

Yes, the project will cost a lot of money. Yes, the economy is bad. Yes, the population is decreasing.

But the county isn’t broke and none of those yeses should override the need for progress, growth and recreation.

Living without a recreation complex for 30 years certainly hasn’t helped matters any.

Natchez and Adams County have to begin doing the things we’ve talked about for decades. Recreation is a great place to start.

Tuesday’s meeting was about the designs. More meetings about the financing are in order, and the public should certainly be involved every step of the way.

The members of the recreation commission have done a great job so far, but they’ll have to continue to “sell” the project to the community by working with elected officials to show everyone how it can be funded.

The support is there and the consensus is asking the same question — Why haven’t we done this already?

You won’t win over every naysayer, but that shouldn’t prevent our county from knocking this one out of the park.

Let’s just please make sure that in 30 years the community isn’t still proposing a recreation game plan.

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