Board seeks RFP for lease of Duncan Park building

Published 12:15 am Monday, October 16, 2017


NATCHEZ — Natchez aldermen Tuesday decided to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for lease of a dilapidated Duncan Park building, formerly used as the park’s pro shop.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis moved that the city advertise the RFP, which the board approved unanimously. Ward 5 Alderman Benjamin Davis was not present.

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The interest of acquiring the building dates back to January, when fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi proposed its plan to lease the building for 50 years.

Back in January, the fraternity estimated the costs of renovating the building at approximately $133,000, a roof replacement being one of the essential needs.

Part of the fraternity’s proposal is to use the building for youth-centered activities.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard, who serves as the board’s public properties chair, said the city and parties interested in the building must consider carefully the building’s condition and the ability to salvage it.

“You see that building, and it’s rotten, the roof is caving in … but it’s about the things you can’t see,” Dillard said.

Some of those unseen aspects Dillard mentioned include the plumbing, air condition and electrical systems of the building.

“It’s not one of the kind of things that you put a roof on and paint it and put some windows in it and get it up and running off the ground,” Dillard said.

Dillard said, however, he “loved” the idea of converting the building into a center for youth activities and having it near the front of the park where young children play for supervision purposes.

Arceneaux-Mathis said she believed accepting additional proposals is necessary, and the mayor and board could decide what to do with the building if and when more proposals are received.

“At the time the proposal was submitted by Kappa Alpha Psi, I suggested very strongly that we send out (an RFP),” Arceneaux-Mathis said. “I’m expecting or thinking maybe other proposals will come in.”

Arceneaux-Mathis said this process is just to see if anyone else is interested in leasing the building. Once all proposals are received, she said, the city could make a determination on the building, whether that is awarding it to a bidder, demolishing it to clear space, retaining the building or any other outcome.

Aldermen held a public hearing at Tuesday’s meeting regarding the property, but Kappa Alpha Psi member Tony Heidelberg was the only commenter, reiterating his group’s commitment to investing in the building.

The five aldermen present voted to advertise the RFP, though no official specified a due date for the proposals at Tuesday’s meeting.