New swimming pool coming? County approached with funding match request

Published 12:12 am Tuesday, October 7, 2014

NATCHEZ A new swimming pool could soon be coming to Natchez if the Adams County Board of Supervisors can find nearly $500,000 to match funding for its construction.

Board President Darryl Grennell said the pool came up in discussions with members of a committee designated to decide how payments from the Magnolia Bluffs Casino to the City of Natchez should be spent.

Grennell made the announcement Monday morning during the supervisor’s monthly meeting.

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When Magnolia Bluffs began development of its Natchez facility and signed its lease agreement with the City of Natchez, the casino agreed to pay $1 million in annual rent for a city-owned waterfront location on Roth Hill. The lease agreement also called for the casino to pay $225,000 annually for community development.

Magnolia Bluffs Casino President Kevin Preston, who is also a member of the committee, said he hoped the pool would spur more recreation in the area.

“I think the biggest thing for us being in and around the community was that we kept the hearing the citizens saying they wanted a pool in town,” Preston said. “Our goal is to work with the city, work with the county and work with recreation to get this pool going and maybe it will streamline other things to get going to.”

Grennell said the county was asked to match what the committee wants to dedicate to the outdoor swimming pool. The casino funds would be paid out over two years with $225,000 each year.

“A swimming facility is something this community has long needed,” Grennell said. “The people of this community, old and young, are missing out on a benefit that should be in place.”

Grennell said an exact location for the pool hasn’t yet been identified, but he said it would likely be in the area of Natchez High School near the Steckler Multipurpose Building.

“That would allow the facility to be of use to all the schools — public, private, parochial — and be in a great location for community use,” Grennell said. “They’re talking about having a nice facility to where you can bring in competitions, so it’s not going to be a small pool by any means.”

Grennell said he hoped ground could be broken on the facility as early as February 2015.

Members of the board voted unanimously to bring in the county’s financial advisor, Demery Grubbs, and see how the county could fund the project.

“We’d probably be looking at some sort of bond to help with the project,” Grennell said. “A lot of the logistics still have to be worked out, but we want to get Mr. Grubbs in here to look at what all is possible for us.”

Supervisor David Carter, who is the county’s liaison to recreation matters, said he agreed a pool would be beneficial for the community, but asked board members if that was the best recreational tool for the area.

“As you know from the beginning, I haven’t been in full support of a pool,” Carter said. “Everybody we’ve talked to says it’s a high maintenance and high cost thing that you only get four to five months use out of.

“There are several other things you could use to enhance this area.”

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said after the meeting he didn’t think the county is in any position to take on the project.

“We don’t have any money, I know we don’t have any money and I don’t need Demery Grubbs to come in there and tell me that,” Lazarus said. “We have to pay back some of the money we’ve borrowed for other stuff first before we take on any more debt.”

Tate Hobdy, president of the Natchez-Adams Recreation Commission, was not at the meeting, but said later the pool was not directly tied to the recreation plan the commission has been developing for the area.

“The casino board came to me and said they wanted to put money toward a pool to help get the rest of the recreation project moving forward,” Hobdy said. “This is a stand alone thing they’re doing, but we definitely see it as an opportunity to move forward and help put some of the pieces together with what we’re doing.”