Visitor Center bill passed in committee, put on Senate calendar

Published 12:04 am Thursday, February 21, 2019

JACKSON — A bill that would transfer ownership of the Natchez Visitor Reception Center and City of Natchez-owned Forks of the Road property to the National Park Service could be voted on in the Senate later this week, said Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez.

The Senate Local and Private Committee passed Senate Bill 2275, which authorizes the land transfers, on a 6-0 vote Wednesday, Dearing said.

“It goes to the Senate calendar now,” Dearing said, “and could be debated on (today) or maybe Friday.”

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If the measure gets voted out of the Senate it would then proceed to the House.

Transfer of the Natchez Visitors and Reception Center to the National Park Service has been in the works for several years but requires legislative approval.

The transfer would relieve the city of the financial burden of operating and upkeep on the building at 640 S. Canal St.

Dearing said he believes the measure has a good chance of getting passed this year.

Kathleen Bond, superintendent of the Natchez National Historical Park, said she was excited to hear the bill is now on the Senate calendar.

“We’re excited about progress,” Bond said. “We don’t anticipate any problems with it but it’s where we are in the process. We look forward to moving ahead and doing great things.”

Bond said Forks of the Road properties that were once owned by prominent slaveholders and are currently held by the city of Natchez would be included in the land transfer.

“It’s a district,” Bond said of the Forks of the Road and Natchez owns some of the sites. “It is not just one site, so there are a lot of moving parts. We are very happy the city is willing to donate the pieces they own, and we look forward to being good stewards of the pieces they donate.”