City needs to find ways to get properties into private hands

Published 12:16 am Friday, April 14, 2017

Residents expressing skepticism Tuesday as Natchez aldermen considered the future of the former Natchez General Hospital building had good reason to do so.

The City of Natchez’s batting average of success with rehabilitating large public properties is not the best.

In the 1990s, the city earned great accolades with its plans to turn old schools into senior housing among other uses.

Email newsletter signup

But some of those projects have fallen flat over the last 20 years. Brumfield School still sits in disrepair along with the former hospital building on Oak Street. And the former Margaret Martin School is badly in need of renovation.

The problem is the city has no means to perform those upgrades and renovations.

So the properties sit in disrepair.

That’s what prompted the city to seek requests for proposals — two of which were considered by a small committee from the city’s leadership team.

Seeking the proposals was wise. On the surface, neither proposal received seems particularly solid.

The city is in an unenviable position. It is saddled with a number of large municipal properties that it cannot afford to keep up.

Eventually, the city needs to realize it cannot manage all of the properties under its care and must find a way to return properties into private hands that will pay taxes and be responsible for their upkeep.