Residents positive, wary about unveiled master plan Tuesday night
Published 12:44 am Wednesday, February 21, 2018
NATCHEZ — Residents had positive — if wary — responses Tuesday night to the long-awaited unveiling of a proposed master plan to revitalize downtown Natchez.
The yearlong process commissioned by nonprofit FOR Natchez aimed to create a detailed, long-term plan for three primary areas: the bluff, the arts district and the MLK triangle district.
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Of the projects, Project manager Philip L. Walker said the most vital change is restoring historic buildings in Natchez — particularly those in the MLK triangle district, where restoration is badly needed.
After presenting the plan — which included urban planning and design, economic development plans and an overall goal for Natchez’s future downtown — Walker opened the floor for residents to give feedback.
Many residents said they felt positive about the proposed changes — from the moving of the current post office to the reintroduction of two-way traffic on Franklin and Main streets — but wondered at the plans feasibility.
Diana Glaze, who has lived in Natchez for more than 36 years, said she was anxious to hear how other residents felt at the end of the presentation in the Natchez Convention Center.
“It’s a lot of information and very comprehensive,” she said. “I just think those of us who live here will be a little more realistic.”
Long-time Natchez resident John McCullough said he felt many of the ideas proposed would greatly benefit the city.
“Most of it is extremely good,” McCullough said. “The idea to move that horrible post office is extremely good.”
Keith Covington, a member of the consultant team, proposed moving the post office from its current location to the Martin Luther King Jr. Street area and making the current post office area into a plaza.
Deborah Mitchell, who has lived in Natchez for 13 years, said she was a little overwhelmed at all the information the meeting provided.
“Overall, I think there are good changes,” she said. “We are just going to have to see how it will be funded and if it’s really possible.”
This — the cost of enacting the plan — was perhaps the most-mentioned concern for the revitalization plan.
Walker said calculating exactly how much the plan could cost is difficult because how much of the plan the city implements is optional.
“I have never had a city implement 100 percent of the plan,” Walker said.
Instead, Walker encouraged Natchez leaders to pick what parts of the plan best fit in the city and leave the rest.
Though some attendees of the meeting had doubts, other residents were fully committed to the proposals.
Local business-owner René Adams said she is on board for the whole plan and hopes the community will be, too.
“I think it’s fabulous,” she said. “I think it’s the most beautiful effort I’ve seen. If we could only embrace that, I think we could really make a big difference.”