A great year behind us, an even greater year ahead

Published 9:00 pm Friday, December 29, 2023

We are coming to the end of 2023, and what a year it has been! This is the last calendar year of our first administration, and while the first three years were full of accomplishments, a lot of the time was spent planning, completing architectural and engineering designs, going through the proper legal processes, and working with city departments and contractors alike to move our visions through to completion.

The joy of this year has been seeing many of those projects go from plans to reality, as it seems we are cutting ribbons on completed projects every week. Our Natchez Renewal has truly taken off!

One of our first accomplishments was our recreational renewal – new playgrounds and renovated bathrooms. This year we saw the completion of the North Natchez Youth Center.  What was once a blighted property that was being considered by some for demolition is now a beautiful facility hosting everything from birthday parties to turkey giveaways.

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Recently, we also cut the ribbon on two brand new tennis courts. This allows not only for a great new place for tennis players to hit serves and returns, but also expands our offerings for one of the nation’s fastest growing sports – pickleball. Our baseball fields are also about to see new life – they have recently been completely renovated, and we are looking forward to hosting league and tournament play again. And for our golfers, I am excited to see the beginning of our restoration of the Duncan Park golf clubhouse in the spring of 2024.

We are also investing in our infrastructure. Close to 50 streets throughout our city are currently being repaved, and plans are now under way to re-surface even more streets in 2024, including Canal, Homochitto, and Jeff Davis, and also Main, Franklin, and the cross streets between them.

We have also begun working to electrify the north end of our historic bluff. This will allow for more incredible events at an area of our city that features what is very likely the most commanding view of the Mississippi River to be found in any city in America.

Working with our partners at Entergy, we have just completed the installation of 1,000 new LED light fixtures throughout over half of our neighborhoods. Not only does this improve visibility for motorists, but it also improves the capabilities of our law enforcement officers in making Natchez a safer place to live. And we are continuing to work on drainage projects throughout the city. We have already begun designing long-needed improvements to West Stiers Lane, Concord, and Turtle Lane, and we plan to work on projects in other areas of our city within the next year.

Our public properties have been a priority of this administration as well. City Hall now has a new roof, and the restoration of the interior now reflects the unique charm and character of our city.  We have also begun renovations to our Convention Center, City Auditorium, and Civic Center.  These are just the beginning of what will become a sizable investment in these buildings. Our first responders are also being shown some long-needed attention: renovations have begun to our police department and fire department buildings. And renovations to our City Council Chamber building are also under way.

While all these projects made 2023 a historic year for Natchez, I am looking forward to an even better 2024. Still in the works are several big projects including raising Silver Street, the renovation of the Eola, improved parking for downtown, and our continued partnership with the county in repairing Morgantown Road. We also have great plans for medical economic development (M.E.D. Natchez), Workforce Development, and our Safe City initiative – not to mention continuing to celebrate 300 new businesses, and the over 1000 new jobs they represent – writing about economic development will come soon in a column all to itself – there is so much more to share. Indeed, we have much to be thankful for.

What I celebrate most is the fact we are accomplishing all of this by working together as One Natchez. We truly are a city that has come together, at a time so many other places have been torn apart. We are indeed that shining city on the river’s highest hill – and my prayer is that the light of our Natchez Renewal will shine even more brightly in 2024. Because Natchez Deserves More!

 

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.