Supervisors diving into pool idea

Published 12:12 am Sunday, November 9, 2014

NATCHEZ — Four members of the Adams County’s board of supervisors say they’re comfortable with a proposal for a community pool as long as it’s part of a larger program for recreation.

“I have already been for recreation,” Supervisor Calvin Butler said. “The issue has always been getting it started and moving, and this will be a start. If we add baseball fields and tennis courts, we have a complete recreation complex.”

Butler’s comments followed a meeting with representatives of the Magnolia Bluffs Community Development Committee and the Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission.

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The idea the construction of a community pool was first floated last month when members of the Magnolia Bluffs Community Development Committee approached Supervisors’ President Darryl Grennell about the possibility.

Magnolia Bluffs Casino has committed to paying $225,000 annually into a community development fund, which is overseen by the committee. The committee had initially asked the county to contribute $500,000 in matching funds toward the construction.

At the time the idea of the pool was first floated, Magnolia Bluffs Casino President Kevin Preston said he hoped the pool would spur the development of other recreation in the area.

The committee has met with all of the members of the board of supervisors except Grennell in the last week. The supervisors said in addition to a pool the proposal now includes a soccer field to be co-located with the enclosed pool on the bean field near Natchez High School. Supervisor Mike Lazarus had initially expressed significant hesitation to the idea of a pool, but said based on a discussion he had Friday he believed the county could be involved in the pool’s construction without raising taxes.

“The county is willing to put a commitment in,” he said. “That way we can go to the public and let them know we are working on recreation.”

His support for the project hinges, however, on the development of a comprehensive recreation plan, Lazarus said.

“If I support the pool, I want a 10-year plan that will take care of everything, all recreation,” he said.

The supervisors said some details of the plan — for example, routine maintenance of the facility, construction costs and how the construction would be underwritten — would still have to be worked out, but Grennell said he believes that can be worked out.

“I think we should underwrite the cost of construction, but as far as the operation and maintenance that should be handled by the recreation commission,” Grennell said.

“The whole concept in terms of recreation was it was going to fall under the auspices of the recreation commission, where they would hire a recreation director, the city would provide operation costs what they provide, schools would utilize it in some way.”

The county board has allocated funding for the recreation commission — which is appointed by the county, city and school boards — to hire a director, but all three governing boards have not signed off on letting the commission make the hire.

“We need a director in place,” Lazarus said. “Until we have a director, he or she needs to decide what our long-term recreation needs are. The county does not have a problem paying for the director.”

Supervisor Angela Hutchins said she asked the development committee members if the commitment to the pool and recreation would be for at least 10 years, but because the committee is meeting with the  other boards they declined to answer at this time. Hutchins said other parties may be interested in underwriting the construction or maintenance as well.

“I think the proposal is a good one, and I am hoping and praying everybody will be on board, because I am with it,” she said.

Supervisor David Carter could not be reached for comment.