Project needs manager, not just coach

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Who is in charge of efforts to ensure Natchez and Adams County build a recreation complex in the next decade?

Is it the Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission, which has no money and no real power?

Is it the city? The county? The schools?

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The truth is it’s all of the above, and therefore none of the above.

Group work was a novel idea pushed in America’s schools in the 1980s and 1990s and still today. It is supposed to prepare students for the real world, where they’ll likely be a part of working with others to accomplish goals in their jobs and community groups.

But, inevitably group work in school means that the good student did all the work while the others went along for the ride and the collective good grade.

It’s not much different in the real world. I respect all my co-workers and believe they all have talents, but when someone in our building foolishly assigns a project to a group of people without putting someone “in charge,” well, nothing ever gets done.

Nearly three years after a group of citizens and a few elected leaders pushed to have the community vote on the prospect of building a new recreation complex, the project has no leader, no boss and no direction.

At this rate, recreation will go nowhere, despite a consensus from the public vote in favor of the project.

The idea that three boards, two elected and one appointed by those who are elected, will magically agree on a plan, budget money to enact it and get the ball rolling all at the same time is likely a very far-fetched idea.

After months of the excuse, “Let’s wait until after the election,” the idea is again at least up for discussion, sort of.

The only board to discuss the issue recently was the Adams County Board of Supervisors. It was a convenient topic for them, since at least a few supervisors agreed the next step is hiring a director and the recommendation has been that the city handles that task.

It’s likely those discussions served only to infuriate members of the city’s leadership who likely feel like their counterparts at the county are passing the buck while cracking the whip.

The proposed funding plan on the table for the recreation is complex, and too many members of the community feel like they’ve not been given a plan at all.

In addition, each governmental entity due to provide a piece of the recreation pie has a kitchen full of entirely different fish to fry.

Those boards can’t and won’t focus all of their attention on recreation.

This project needs a leader. Perhaps that person is the paid director the county talked about Monday, but it’s likely going to have to be someone else first.

It’s likely time that three things happen:

1. Each board needs to take a vote on whether or not they support continuing efforts to construct a recreation complex;

2. If the answer is yes, all three boards need to meet together and flesh out the next step, voting informally on a next move before they adjourn from the group;

3. All three boards likely need to contribute money in some way to the first step, even if that step is hiring a director who answers to the commission. Funding later projects can be divvied up differently, but until all sides have a stake in appointing a leader, this game will never start.


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