City must address ‘eyesores’

Published 7:01 am Sunday, March 5, 2023

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Natchez city leaders are calling a renewed focus on addressing dilapidated buildings a crackdown on code enforcement.

We call it much needed focus on a critical concern in our community.

This renewed attention began several weeks ago, when residents living near a new youth crisis stabilization center questioned the licensing and public notice process for the center. While the city attorney is now negotiating with the center operator over apparent licensing issues, officials also have turned their attention to other potential code issues: foremost among those dilapidated buildings.

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On Tuesday, Mayor Dan Gibson said the city is taking action with two such restaurants – Shoney’s and South China – that have become abandoned eyesores, one with a collapsing roof and boarded windows. And, the mayor said, officials have “quite of list of addresses that we’re working on,” from burned out structures to unkempt properties.

Cleaning up these public eyesores needs to be a priority for our community. Spring Pilgrimage began in earnest this week, and thousands of visitors are expected in Natchez during the next 10 weeks. They will tour stately historic properties and glorious tended gardens. They will dine on some of the best food the South has to offer, and they will bask in the hospitality Natchez offers so well.

They will also take away the memories of blighted entry corridors into town; of boarded up restaurants on main thoroughfares; of empty storefronts and abandoned buildings.

Economic renewal is an ongoing process and one that takes time. Filling up empty storefronts in Downtown won’t happen overnight, and we all recognize that.

City leaders can and should take every action to ensure that unused properties and eyesores are addressed throughout the community – especially commercial properties on major thoroughfares. What starts now as a code crackdown needs to become a basic operating standard moving forward, with an ongoing and continual emphasis.

Our city leaders and residents have too much time and energy in Natchez’s renewal to leave these eyesores unaddressed.