City may have good opportunity

Published 12:03 am Thursday, August 2, 2012

The City of Natchez needs to use caution in the weeks ahead as it tiptoes across a potential “sand trap.”

The city quietly has expressed interest in potentially purchasing the assets of the financially strapped Beau Pré Country Club if the club’s property winds up in foreclosure. The club faces a Sept. 4 deadline to raise funds to avoid foreclosure.

Why, many will ask, would the city even consider purchasing a golf course that’s a few miles outside the city limits when it already has a perfectly good golf course at Duncan Park?

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Well, it might actually make some financial sense.

Natchez and Adams County governments, along with the public schools, have been considering how to partner and build a sorely needed, state-of-the-art recreational facility in Natchez.

If the city could purchase Beau Pré at a good price and annex the area around it — which includes some of the area’s newest construction — the tax benefits for the city could be substantial.

Or perhaps the city can convince Adams County to be the country club’s rescuer and allow it to handle the golf side of the city-county-schools recreation program.

Repurposing Duncan Park’s beautiful terrain to a more all-inclusive recreation facility could be a very good idea for our community’s residents. The park’s location and terrain make it in many ways much more ideal than the proposed recreation site adjacent to Natchez High.

The city must be very careful in what it plans to do, and it should allow for public discussion of any and all plans — as they develop — before any decisions are made or deals are cut.

Annexation isn’t an automatic process, and buying something that already isn’t financially sound could become a public tar baby if the city doesn’t keep its eye on the ball and plan its shots carefully.