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Let’s work together to plan our future

At one of the focus groups leading up to tonight’s Downtown Revitalization Public Workshop, FOR Natchez city planning consultant Tronn Moller told us that an “urban plan is basically a story.” He said that Natchez needs to come together to decide “what story we are going to tell.”

Citizens of Natchez, our collective assignment tonight from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Natchez Convention Center is to sit down together at round tables, talk to each other, work with each other, and map out a common vision for the growth of our community from the edge of the bluff to our Black History District.

What will our story be?

I ask each and every one of you to bring your best ideas to the table tonight, no matter how out of reach they may seem.  Then, let’s be guided by our lead consultant Phil Walker of The Walker Collaborative and his team of expert urban planners to create a citizen-based vision for our downtown.

Let this be our story: In 2017, the citizens and leadership of Natchez-Adams came together and made a thoughtful plan to guide the growth of our community, starting with our downtown, the heart of the city.  As a result, their children grew up to discover that the ‘greener pastures’ the children desired to build their adult lives on were right here at home. They found a walkable, vibrant town that offers inclusion and community, job opportunities and safe neighborhoods, as well as social, recreational and educational activities for all its citizens.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again:  Working together, we can and we will attract outside investors, increase tax revenues, improve quality of life, create jobs and keep more of our young people in Natchez and at work. But first, we must make a plan.

Remember, this is phase two of a four phase project that began in 2015 when the City Council unanimously endorsed the “Downtown Natchez Revitalization Project: The Next 300 Years.” Spearheaded by the Natchez Friends of the Riverfront (FOR Natchez), the project will conclude in the fall of 2017 with the adoption of a Downtown Master Plan by the City Council. Already, many of you have contributed money, time and energy to the process.  You have participated in public meetings and focus groups from Young Mothers with Children, Bluff Stakeholders, Downtown Merchants and Real Estate Developers to Young Black Entrepreneurs, Tourism-Economic Development Officials, Downtown Residents and more.

To all of you who have participated and will participate, you have my sincere thanks.  I look forward to continuing our journey tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Natchez Convention Center.  Let’s roll up our sleeves and do the work together. Thank you.
Darryl V. Grennell is the mayor of Natchez.