Kappa Alpha Psi looks to renovate, lease Duncan Park building

Published 12:28 am Thursday, January 26, 2017

NATCHEZ — The local chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity is looking to spend approximately $133,000 to renovate and lease an old clubhouse at Duncan Park.

Natchez Municipal Judge pro tem Tony Heidelberg and other fraternity members appeared before the Natchez Board of Aldermen Tuesday to propose the renovation and a long-term lease of the dilapidated building.

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The building is located in Duncan Park between the tennis courts and main playground.

Heidelberg told the aldermen a preliminary estimates indicate the renovation would cost approximately $133,000. Among other repairs, Heidelberg said the building’s roof needs to be replaced.

The fraternity wishes to lease the building for a 50-year term and convert it into a center for community activities. In exchange for the fraternity funding the renovation and continued maintenance of the building, the city would not charge the fraternity rent for the building, Heidelberg said.

Kappa Alpha Psi will use the building for events and meetings, but is also hoping to start a “self-help movement” in Natchez by hosting a variety of education events at the center, Heidelberg said.

The center’s offerings, Heidelberg said, would include doctors and dentists hosting health-related seminars as well as mentorships for young people.

Additionally, Heidelberg said the fraternity would partner with Magnolia Bluffs Casino, for which Heidelberg serves as an attorney, to install security cameras at the center as well as at the tennis courts.

Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier said he thinks the idea is a good one, but asked the fraternity to allow the aldermen more time to review the proposal.

“I don’t want it to come up later that (people say) we could have used that building ourselves,” Frazier said. “I think it’s a great idea. … You have my support.”

Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard said he thought the proposal was a terrific idea. He asked for plans to see visually what the fraternity would do with the building as well as the exact terms of the lease.

“I want to commend your organization for taking an interest in the City of Natchez,” he said.

The board of aldermen took the proposal under advisement and agreed to revisit it at a later date.

Frazier promised Heidelberg and other Kappa Alpha Psi members the city would not “drag its feet” on making a decision on the proposal.