Preservation views riverfront park plans

Published 12:11 am Thursday, June 21, 2012

NATCHEZ — Natchez Preservation commissioners got a glimpse of conceptual plans at their Wednesday meeting for the proposed riverfront public park on Roth Hill Road.

Steve Sanchez of HGOR Planners & Landscape Architects and Magnolia Bluffs Casino Project Manager Dennis McEvoy presented the commissioners with large posters of the park plans.

The plans are part of a grant application for which the city is applying in August to fund the $3 million park. The grant would come from the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement program.

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Natchez City Engineer David Gardner said he hopes the city will be awarded the grant sometime in October.

The city plans to combine the $300,000 in contributions from the city’s lease with Magnolia Bluffs Casino developers for the Natchez Trails Project and the park for the 20-percent cost match for the grant.

The plans for the $3 million park include an amphitheater, an in-ground spray fountain, lawn area, a boardwalk connecting to the Natchez Trails Project, playground and garden area.

Sanchez and Dennis McEvoy of FoxCor Construction gave the commission an update on changes made at the request of the commission to landscaping plans at the casino site. McEvoy provided commissioners with samples of cypress siding for the casino building for later feedback on a final choice of siding.

In other news from the meeting:

•The commission approved an application from Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development District’s Executive Director Wirt Peterson to screen an exterior air conditioning unit at the SWMPDD’s office with iron work.

The application was denied at last month’s preservation commission meeting because, Chairperson Marty Seibert said, the iron enclosure did not adequately screen the unit for street view. The commission voted to reconsider the application.

The project’s designer, Joel Misita, said the brick lattice that had been enclosing the unit had reportedly been kicked in by downtown bar patrons. Misita said the iron enclosure would be sturdier against vandalism.

Peterson provided the commissioners with pictures of other exposed air conditioning units downtown that he said he could see when he steps out of the front door of his office.

Commissioner Shirley Petkovsek said she did not believe that having other exposed units meant the commission could not correct the exposed unit at Peterson’s office.

Nix said some of the units Peterson provided pictures of were required to be on the back or side of some buildings or facing parking lots and not viewable from the street.

Commissioner Liz Dantone asked Misita if he would consider alternative materials such as wood or iron work that is denser and would properly screen the unit.

Peterson said if the commission did not approve an enclosure made completely of iron, he did not intend to repair the brick lattice as he has repeatedly done and would leave the unit exposed.

The commission approved the application under the condition the final iron work design be approved by the paint committee, which is comprised of Seibert, Petkovsek and commissioner Tony DeAngelis.

•Seibert thanked Nix for his service to the city and to the commission.

“Without you, we never would have made it through the casino (project) or the (Arlington) oil well,” Seibert said.

Nix will be retiring at the end of the month.