YMCA, city close to agreement

Published 12:19 am Thursday, November 2, 2017


NATCHEZ — On the organization’s deadline for the city to agree to terms or it would walk, the YMCA’s Natchez director said the two sides appeared to be close to a working agreement.

Natchez YMCA Director Alice Agner said she received a draft agreement at approximately 4 p.m. Wednesday. The YMCA set the deadline YMCA over the summer for the city to have a new interlocal agreement in place because disagreements in the old document were causing Agner to not be able to fulfill her contractual obligations.

Email newsletter signup

Agner said earlier this week the YMCA would accept a good-faith draft copy based on concessions she and the city had met about earlier this year.

Some city officials had concerns about Agner supervising city recreation employees and having management over the city’s parks, and Agner said she took those issues off the table.

Agner requested management of the Margaret Martin gym, the baseball fields at Duncan Park and the swimming pool when built. The YMCA already has control of the county-funded multipurpose fields near where the pool is under construction.

Agner said the document gives her management of the baseball fields and the swimming pool. Agner said she has a separate lease with the city giving her authority to rent and manage the gym for recreational purposes.

Agner said full responsibility of the gym could be something that is added in as the draft moves into further renditions.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said earlier this week the city left management of the fields within the city’s purview.

Arceneaux-Mathis said Wednesday her concern with giving management to the YMCA relates to fees.

“I told (Alderman City Attorney) Bob (Latham) we probably really need to check with the Dixie Youth Baseball group,” Arceneaux-Mathis said.

Arceneaux-Mathis said she understands discussions took place about Dixie Youth being charged to use the fields.

The people involved with Dixie Youth are already paying taxes, Arceneaux-Mathis said she did not believe they should have to pay an additional fee.

“I want to make sure the recreational facility is open to all without a fee attached,” said Arceneaux-Mathis, chair of the board of aldermen’s recreation committee. “I love our children and want them to be able to participate.”

Arceneaux-Mathis said before the document is finalized, she wants to speak with members of the league, as well as other leagues that could potentially use the field.

“We want to make sure that nothing in the agreement deters anyone from having a good experience,” she said.

Arceneaux-Mathis said if the fields’ popularity ever gets to the point where it is drawing in people from out of town, she did not have a problem with charging a fee for such tournaments.

Agner said the Natchez-Adams Recreation Commission board did speak with the Dixie Youth representatives over the summer about a document spelling out that the league would do maintenance on the fields in lieu of a fee.

Agner said any fee would not be related to any YMCA fees, but recreation commission fees for field maintenance. Agner said discussion is still preliminary and they do not have a specific figure in mind for a fee, nor has charging a fee been set in stone.

“I know some people have issues with charging to use the facilities, but (the city) charges for people to play golf and use the tennis courts,” Agner said. “People pay taxes and they don’t play tennis or golf for free.”