Group to lease, pre-develop bean field property

Published 12:32 am Thursday, May 26, 2016

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission has tentatively agreed to lease the bean field property to a local group that will pre-develop the property for the commission.

The agreement was approved at a commission meeting this week.

The proposed site for a new recreation facility, the bean field property is near the location of the pool and multipurpose fields on which officials recently broke ground. The commission recently advertised it for agricultural use — which it had been previously used for — so it could be maintained while further plans were developed.

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Instead of receiving an agricultural bid, however, the commission was approached by the Iron Men, a group sponsored by First Baptist Church of Natchez, Commission Chair Tate Hobdy said.

“They — out of the goodness of their hearts — have volunteered to make sure the field is cut, and if they can get some of their members together, they are going to go and try to help do some of the dirt work at the bean field prior to us doing some of the construction,” Hobdy said.

“We may cut a parking lot in there. If we can get to the point where we can get some engineering done, we can have them rough out a couple of ball fields so people can see it and sort of visualize what the complex might look like.”

The group would actually lease the land, Hobdy said, but the term of the lease would be the maintenance of the property and any improvements they could make for recreation. Improvements could include leveling and planting grass on the property.

The Iron Men would also make the property actually available for recreational purposes, Hobdy said.

“They understand that if we get ready to start (construction), we would terminate the lease,” he said. “They want to work with us, they want to work with the YMCA, and they are just a good organization that wants to see the project move forward.”

Iron Men Spokesman Leo Joseph III said the group approached the commission because they want to see the field used for its intended purpose, recreation.

“Anything to facilitate that purpose, we will do,” Joseph said. “If that means keeping the grass cut to use it for kids to use it as practice fields or to go out there and fly a kite, we are willing to do that.”

The group has been in communication with the commission about the proposal for approximately two months, Joseph said, and while they have no specific plans, as soon as a contract is signed the group will be cutting the grass.

“We will talk to the heads of the local sporting leagues to see what their needs are and see if we can accommodate that,” he said.

The City of Natchez received the bean field — which was originally intended to be the southern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway — from the State of Mississippi in July 2015. Its conveyance took an act of Congress and a vote from the state legislature and came with the stipulation that the property be used for recreational or educational purposes.

The commission also voted to contract with Waycaster and Associates for the creation of construction documents for the pool project for $88,000.

A previous quote was for significantly more and did not include as wide a scope of work, Hobdy said.

Once the commission has the construction documents in hand, it can advertise for bid the actual construction of the project.

“I am hoping to get some engineering done for the multipurpose fields quickly, so we can start dirt work for that engineering, and by then we will have the full construction documents for the pool and put it out for bid then,” he said. “I see those two projects going hand-in-hand.”