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Plans progress for city to take Beanfield

NATCHEZ — A bill that would give the state transportation director the authority to transfer the old beanfield property to the City of Natchez has passed both the state House and Senate.

Next, Senate Bill 2455 heads back to the floor for some fine-tuning of its language before heading to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature, Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said.

“This has been a long time coming,” Brown said. “But by the middle of next week, it should be headed to (the governor).”

The measure passed the House Monday. The deadline to pass that bill was today.

Brown said he does not anticipate problems in getting Bryant to sign the bill into law, a sentiment shared with the bill’s author, State Sen. Kelvin Butler, D-Magnolia.

Brown said he will meet with Bryant in Jackson today on several issues, and the signing of that bill will be one of them.

Butler said he does not foresee any problems getting Bryant to sign the finished product.

But just to make sure, Butler planned next to go to the governor’s representatives at the statehouse to make sure there are no obstacles to signing the bill.

Local officials have long discussed using the beanfield next to Natchez High as a possible site of a recreation complex. The city leases the 67 acres from the state.

And language recently added to the bill states the property cannot be used for casino-related development.

“That site has been talked about as a potential site for a recreation complex, and I’m glad that’s back on the table,” said Darryl Grennell, president of the Adams County Board of Supervisors.

The City of Natchez, Adams County, the Natchez-Adams School District and the Recreation Commission are partnering to plan new recreation facilities for the area.

Once ownership of the parcel has transferred to the city, Grennell said he would like the Recreation Commission come to those boards “and make a recommendation (on) a design.”

“That way, we can ascertain what the cost is going to be,” he added.

This is just the latest hurdle the beanfield has cleared. In September 2013, President Obama signed a bill to transfer the property from federal to state hands.

The mayor gave a large part of the credit for getting the beanfield site to former City Attorney Walter Brown.

“This is largely due to his efforts in keeping the pressure on,” the mayor said.

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