Recreation plan takes time out

Published 12:03 am Friday, October 28, 2011

NATCHEZ — The recreation ball in Natchez and Adams County has stopped rolling.

Plans that came out of an inter-local agreement to build and run a complex stalled at the county level due to funding.

“Unfortunately (plans) have fallen into stagnancy,” Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission Chairman Tate Hobdy said.

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Nothing has really changed since the April meeting of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, Natchez Board of Alderman and Natchez-Adams School Board to discuss the proposed complex, Hobdy said.

At the first meeting, Hobdy presented the plan the inter-local agreement charged his commission to devise. The plan includes a new adult softball field, four youth baseball fields, a swimming pool, a large concession building, a shade pavilion, trail network, batting cage complex and a lake near the bean field by Natchez High School.

Phase one also includes two new tennis courts, new restrooms, parking and a renovated pro shop at Duncan Park.

The recreation commission plans to coordinate a meeting of all three boards in November, Hobdy said.

“The plan is good, lets move forward,” he said.

At the November meeting, Hobdy said he will remind county, city and school leaders about the plans and hand over the reigns.

“We can’t float a bond issue,” Hobdy said of the commission. “It’s going to require action on (the boards’) parts, end of story, to make a move forward.”

But no votes have been cast to get the ball rolling again since April, though some supervisors, such as District 1 Supervisor Mike Lazarus have recently been vocal about getting back on track.

Hobdy said the action needs to start with the county supervisors, since the commission recommended the county pay for construction. The commission funding plans also suggested the city pay for the majority of the complex’s operation and the school board donate land and pay for swimming pool operation.

But other supervisors, such as District 2 Supervisor Henry Watts, have suggested the county cannot afford to pay any new, big projects right now.

Additionally, the county recently had to borrow a $1.2 million loan to make payroll until taxes are collected.

Hobdy said he decided to wait until after the November election to host another meeting.

“We were considering having a meeting before election but decided with (elections) coming up, we didn’t want it to turn into a campaign arena,” he said.

Watts’ opponent, David Carter, is currently a member of the recreation commission.

“We’re trying to keep the initiative as pure as possible,” Hobdy said.

Hobdy said the county still has not had its bond rating reevaluated, which might be contributing to the hold up, among other things.

“I don’t’ think any elected official wants to present something that’s not going to pass. If they think they can get a majority, I hope they’ll move (forward),” he said.

Hobdy said he is often asked about the progress or lack of progress of the proposed complex, but those questions should be forwarded to area leaders.

“What we need more than anything else is for individuals for recreation to talk to their alderman or supervisor, corner a school board member,” Hobdy said.

“Loud voices are always the negatives, we need some positive voices to go to elected and appointed officials.”