City OKs funds to complete North Natchez Youth Center renovations

Published 5:24 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen approved accepting the low bid of $476,000 from Smith Painting for completion of the interior renovation work at the North Natchez Youth Center.

That brings the total cost of the project to $824,900.

“With this we are fully funding the restoration of the youth center at North Natchez Park, and I expect to have confirmation the youth center will be designated as the state’s newest historic landmark,” said Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson.

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The restoration of the North Natchez Youth Center is part of the city’s overall parks and recreation project, which is under way at each of the city’s parks.

Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier asked how many contractors submitted bids for the project and whether minority contractors were made aware of the request for bids.

Gibson said architect Johnny Waycaster, who is project manager, was asked to get the request for bids to as many contractors as possible, “including minority contractors, and I can affirm that was done. We can only assure the offer was extended to minority contractors.”

Community Development Director James Johnson said he knows that at least two minority contractors picked up bid packages for the project.

Aldermen also accepted grant funds totaling $25,000 to assist with design and construction services for Hiram Revels Plaza. The grant funds come from the Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative of the National Park Service and require a $30,000 grant.

“Hiram Revels was the former pastor of Zion Chapel Church, who went on to become the first African American congressman in either house,” Gibson said.

Hiram Revels Plaza will be the cornerstone of a new development area at the triangle area at Martin Luther King Street and St. Catherine Street.

Next, aldermen approved spending $15,000 on low bidder Thorpe Sheet Metal for work to spruce up Ferry Street Landing and Seawall at Under the Hill.

“We are not going to improve Silver Street in the low area under the hill until next summer. We must address the Ferry Street. We will be christening the new Symphony from American Cruise Lines and will be welcoming the new Viking riverboats and both will be using this landing,” Gibson said.

Original plans were to paint the concrete and river wall at the landing, but because of price, aldermen opted to only pressure wash and clean that area.

Discussion of the project led to a spat of sorts between Gibson and Frazier.

“My concern is we have other areas that need to be addressed,” Frazier said. “I’m not totally against it but we have other areas of the city that need cleaning. My constituents are concerned we are spending all of this money downtown and not spending it on other parts of Natchez.”

Gibson took exception to Frazier’s comments.

“Just 10 minutes ago, we approved of spending more than $800,000 on the North Natchez Youth Center,” Gibson said.

In other business, aldermen:

• Approved spending $5,328.86 to add a new Entergy utility pole at the southwest corner of the second access road in Duncan Park in order to relocate wires away from new tennis courts being constructed there.

• Approved the purchase of three refurbished Dell workstations for the Natchez Police Department at a total cost of $3,450.