City hears proposal on recreation, pool project

Published 12:13 am Saturday, January 31, 2015

NATCHEZ — Supporters of a new pool project hope to make a big splash to help the community.

Magnolia Bluffs Casino Community Development Board representative Tony Heidelberg and Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission chairmen Tate Hobdy proposed a consolidated recreation plan Friday during the Natchez Board of Aldermen meeting.

“We are talking about a junior Olympic-size pool located here in Natchez that will accommodate so many of our residents,” Heidelberg said.

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Heidelberg said the pool, which will be accompanied by two soccer fields, would be able to benefit not only the youth, but senior citizens as well.

“It’s an element that will allow them to exercise for the benefit of health,” Heidelberg said.

The community development board had previously suggested the idea of a community pool to the Adams County Board of Supervisors — who approved the plan with a letter of consent to the board of aldermen.

“We want the city to get on board with where we are at this particular point,” Heidelberg said. “We are coming up on 300 years next year. We are embarking on something that is bigger than any other city around.”

However, the board requested a revision of the pool plans presented Friday and a signed letter of consent from the Board of Supervisors before moving forward.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said she is in favor of the pool plan.

“This is what we needed,” Arceneaux-Mathis said. “I think a lot of good work has been going into this. Hopefully, this will jump start the entire recreation district of Natchez.”

Arceneaux-Mathis said she would like to begin with phase one of the project, which would require developing the pool and two soccer fields, without a director set in place.

Arceneaux-Mathis explained during the meeting that the pool plan would take too long to develop if they try to find a director first.

“We are going to find a way for it to work,” Arceneaux-Mathis said. “You can have a sub-director before you get a real director. I’m personally not going to deal with 12 months of minutiae.

“I want to separate this to phase one, and once we get together on phase one, I think the community needs to come forward.”

The proposal includes:

• A one-time contribution from the City of Natchez of $500,000 and a one-time contribution of $750,000 from Adams County for the construction of a junior Olympic-size pool and two soccer fields.

4An annual commitment of $500,000 from the City of Natchez and an annual commitment of $334,000 from Adams County to fund the maintenance and operation of all city and county recreation facilities.

• Matching annual contributions of $100,000 each from Natchez and Adams County for 10 years to fund a bond issue that would build the recreation capital improvement budget.

Alderman Dan Dillard said he is in favor of the pool plan, but only if the county complies with the initial proposal.

“I see it in a bigger context,” Dillard said. “It’s part of a bigger package, so if the county pays their part of it, I’m in.”

Mayor Butch Brown said the matter will be brought up again in a later meeting.

“I’m sure they will be back during our next meeting, and we will bring it up again,” Brown said. “But these things have to be phased.”

In other news from the meeting:

• A public hearing was hosted for the possibility of the city applying for the 2016 Land and Water Conservation Fund application, provided by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

An eligible applicant may apply for, or up to, $150,000 with the local match being split in half, Natchez Community Development Director James Johnston said.

• The Cathedral Green Wave varsity football team was honored for winning the MHSAA Class 1A State Championship.

The board presented the coaching staff with a plaque and the players were awarded a flag and pen in commemoration of their victory.

“It’s a true uprising for the whole community,” Alderman Mark Fortenbery said. “Keep fighting and see if you can bring us another one next year.”

The next Board of Aldermen meeting will be at 10 a.m. on Feb. 10 at the City Council Chambers.