City, county officials looking to revamp recreation agreement

Published 10:03 pm Monday, May 17, 2021

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story published in the Wednesday, May 19, 2021, newspaper inaccurately described Fay Minor’s position as sports and programs director. Minor works for the Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission and is employed part-time by the City of Natchez. We regret the error and are happy to set the record straight.

NATCHEZ — Natchez and Adams County officials are reviewing a new inter-local agreement for parks and recreation for the city and county.

Where previously all of the city and county parks were tied into one agreement, Adams County Attorney Scott Slover said Monday that he has drafted a new ILA that evenly divides the responsibility to fund the swimming pool on Liberty Road and adjacent soccer field between the City of Natchez and Adams County.

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It leaves the city and county independently responsible for maintaining each of its own parks.

Per the agreement, the city and county could also jointly look at planning, funding and building a new recreational complex later on, Slover said.

The agreement, which is still pending approval by the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen, also reduces the number of people on the city and county appointed recreation commission from 9 members to six.

The Natchez Adams School District would no longer have to appoint three members to the commission and the current members would be grandfathered into the new board once the agreement is approved, Slover said.

The commission would still act as the managing board for the swimming pool and soccer field and be in charge of hiring employees to work there, he said.

Officials said the prior agreement established in 2015 was thrown to the wayside while the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen managed the operations at Duncan Park independently from the county.

Meanwhile the only jointly-funded operation was the community swimming pool on Liberty Road and other parks throughout the city and county fell into disrepair.

“This will free up a lot of ability to focus on our own parks,” Slover said, adding the only entity the Board of Supervisors or Board of Aldermen would have to discuss park improvements with is themselves.

The decision to revamp the city and county’s recreation agreement came just after Natchez officials began seeking a new parks and recreation director to oversee improvements at each of the city parks.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said the city could apply for a $1 million bond to fund needed improvements at all of the city’s parks, including replacing playground equipment, fencing, bathrooms and restoring the community center at North Natchez Park and golf clubhouse in Duncan Park.

Currently, Natchez has one part-time director, Fay Minor, who also works for the Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission to manage sports and recreational programs and the swimming pool.

Minor said she is continuing to work as such while the Board of Aldermen seeks a new parks and recreation director.

“I’m still the director of the swimming pool and I work in the city parks. From what I understand, I will still be doing some limited things with the city,” she said.

Minor said she was disappointed when she heard of the city’s decision to hire a new director without discussing it with her and she would consider applying for the position once the application is open.

“My plan is I would probably apply for it. I have all of the qualifications and I’m ready to do something more for recreation,” she said. “Natchez is capable of having a great recreational system and when I first came here it was. … It’s like no one has touched it in 20 years.

“Upgrading recreation will be the best thing for Natchez. It’s the first thing people ask about when they are thinking about moving here — how are the schools and what recreational programs do you have.”

County officials are looking for ways to improve parks in the county as well.

Supervisor Angela Hutchins said the board has applied for a Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks Grant for $50,000 that could fund a splash pad at one of the county parks.

The county would have to front a $25,000 match for the project, she said.