$500K in funds approved for levee work at old Belwood site

Published 12:53 am Wednesday, October 4, 2017


NATCHEZ — Adams County received word Tuesday of $500,000 in grant funding to help complete a levee project at its prime industrial site near the Natchez-Adams County Port.

Adams County Board of Supervisors President Mike Lazarus said Delta Regional Authority approved a $500,000 grant. Lazarus said he is not sure if the second phase of funding would require a match. In the first phase, the county used an approximately $1 million in-kind work match. The county made infrastructure improvements to the site.

Email newsletter signup

Delta Regional Authority approved in 2016 a $1.2 million grant for construction of a ring-levee around the former Belwood Country Club site. The county has marketed the site for years and Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said they have interest contingent upon completion of the levee.

“We have several prospects that are interested in the site,” Russ said. “We are excited to be able to continue the project. It moves us one step closer to completion.”

With this round of funding, the county is still short of the initial levee construction estimates of between $4 million to $6 million.

Lazarus has said since the bid for the first phase of construction came in lower than expected he is hopeful the initial cost estimates were too high..

“I think we are going to find out that it is not going to cost near about that,” Lazarus said. “I think we are going to come down a lot under that.”

Lazarus said by the end of the next phase of work, the county could have a true cost of how much money it will cost to finish the levee.

“I am just one board member, but if it gets down to a number we can handle, I think the board should do what it takes to finish the levee,” Lazarus said. “If we can get in a range under $2 million, then maybe that’s where the county can step in and finish it.”

That said, Lazarus said he would continue to seek alternative sources of funding, including phase three of DRA funding, for which the county would now qualify. Lazarus said he did not know how much money the county could receive for phase three.

Lazarus said he would also pursue other options.

“We make these trips to Washington (D.C.) for a reason,” Lazarus said. “I want to thank the Delta Regional Authority for keeping us in mind. We are going to keep pushing.

“At the end of the day, we know how important that levee is. We will finish the levee.”

Lazarus is planning to go to Washington, D.C., next week to seek funding for a $16 million to $18 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant for bridge and road upgrades. Lazarus said levee funding would be another topic while he is in the capital city.

Laurel-based Walter’s Construction is more than 50 percent complete with phase one of the levee, which will build 3,800 feet of levee, Lazarus said.

Russ said he wanted to thank Mississippi’s federal congressional delegation for their assistance as well as the Delta Regional Authority for helping Adams County.

“The additional half million will go a long way toward completion of the levee,” Russ said. “This continues to put us one step close to having a highly competitive industrial site on the river.”