Visitor center funding needs permanent solution

Published 12:42 am Sunday, February 5, 2017

City officials plan to discuss the future of the Natchez Visitor Reception Center Monday.

The city has struggled to maintain the building almost since its inception. The building was a great concept — pull together resources of the city, the National Park Service and the State of Mississippi. The center was to become a one-stop shop for visiting tourists.

The challenge is the money required to maintain such a building was never really in the city’s budget. The city has depended on help from the state to keep the building operational.

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Now, with state and federal funding tighter than ever, the building’s problems are compounding and the future looks dim. Given the building’s roof leaks, a new roof is probably in order, but the city can probably ill afford one.

Several ideas have been considered as options for the building, including deeding the building over to the National Park Service. Ultimately, that may be the best option since NPS seems to manage its finances better than the City of Natchez.

Beyond the current problem, city leaders desperately need to map out a plan for the maintenance of all city-owned properties.

For City Hall, the Broadway Street depot and several other large properties owned by the city, demolition by neglect is the name of the game.

The city must either reduce expenses and apply the savings to proper building maintenance or raise revenue to do the same.

Constantly depending upon others to help fund city responsibilities is not a long-term option.