Fresh paint and sweet olive: Renewal is happening!

Published 8:05 pm Saturday, February 4, 2023

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Renewal is happening in Natchez! Everywhere you look you see it – you can even smell it. A passerby recently noted that walking down our streets, in addition to sweet olive, one now smells the distinctive fragrance of fresh paint. Not a bad combination!

Natchez has always been a place of unique charm and exquisite beauty. From our majestic bluffs that overlook the winding river to the varied architecture of our historic homes to our magnificent gardens and sprawling oak trees, this beauty is one of our greatest assets. All the more reason to protect it, and in so doing the city should set the example by taking proper care of the various properties entrusted to us.

Upon entering office, one of my initial goals was to clean up our parks and install new playground equipment for our children to enjoy. It has been a pleasure to see these plans come to fruition, but it is now time to move forward with many more improvements, city-wide.

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Thanks again to our friends at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, we have been awarded a new grant to renovate yet another historic property. This Community Heritage and Preservation Grant, $143,750, will allow us to complete the restoration of the exterior of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad Depot on our historic Bluff. Smartly investing our match and other city funds, we will also be renovating the southern part of the interior of the building to include public restrooms, a visitor’s information center, and a small theatre showing an updated Natchez film and other short films about our city.

Another building about to get some fresh paint is the Duncan Park Golf Club House. Just a few days ago, we met with Stephanie Stewart of Belinda Stewart Architects to view final plans for what is about to be an incredible renovation of this historic property. For way too long, this building has not been given the attention it deserves. Overlooking our beautiful 18-hole municipal golf course, the time has come for renewal. We will bid this project in May and construction will begin in June to fully renovate the historic façade of the structure as well as upgrade the reception area, pro shop, offices, and add new bathrooms and dressing rooms.

Other city properties about to see renewal are City Hall (restoration of the historic interior is now in progress), the City Council Chamber Building, our Fire Departments, Police Department, and very soon we hope to finalize plans for renovations to the City Auditorium, Convention Center and Civic Center. Renovations of the North Natchez Youth Center are well under way, and renovation is soon to be happening at our ballfields, Duncan Park restrooms, Auburn Billiard Room, Canteen building, and Playground Pavilion. It’s a lot to keep up with, and the smell of fresh paint is likely to linger in the Natchez air for some time to come!

These are truly exciting times – the Natchez Renewal is happening! And take note: the fragrance of fresh paint will soon be intertwined with the fragrance of fresh asphalt. Renewal of between 50 and 75 city streets is about to happen. Stay tuned for more details to come, because Natchez Deserves More!

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.