‘Bean field’ land nearly back in city hands

Published 12:14 am Thursday, September 19, 2013

NATCHEZ With an assist from President Obama Wednesday, Natchez and Adams County could potentially score big for recreation.

President Obama signed into law a bill that will deed approximately 37 acres of National Park Service land, affectionately called the “bean field,” to the City of Natchez.

Mayor Butch Brown said he was pleased to hear the Natchez Trace Parkway Land Conveyance Act of 2013 had been signed by the president.

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“It usually gets complicated at this point,” he said. “The land will go back to the state, then from the state into the hands of the city.”

That will likely involve some type of legislation, Brown said.

The bean field has been discussed as a possible location for a city and county recreation complex.

“Now we have to determine whether we have the money to proceed with it,” he said.

NPS acquired the land in the early 1990s as a possible termination point for the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Trace was ultimately terminated at its intersection with Liberty Road, leaving the bean field site unused.

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., introduced the Natchez Trace Parkway Conveyance Act of 2013, with co-sponsor U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. The bill was passed unanimously in the Senate.

“The willingness of the National Park Service to give up surplus property created an opportunity for the Natchez and Adams County residents to use these parcels, which are not integral to the Natchez Trace Parkway, for recreational and public uses,” Cochran said.

U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., who represents the Third Congressional District, which includes Natchez, helped move the bill through the House, where it passed 419-1 last week.

The bill authorizes the transfer of approximately 67 acres of surplus NPS property to the State of Mississippi and City of Natchez.  The City will obtain 37 acres with the State of Mississippi retaining the remainder.

Brown said he hopes to convince the state to allow the sale of land across the highway from the bean field site with the proceeds going to pave the road from Emerald Mound to the Natchez Trace Parkway and help the NPS develop the Fort Rosalie site.