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City wants to disown old Natchez tire plant
from Staff Reports - NEWS
April 13, 2018 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – Municipal leaders want to rid themselves of one of Natchez’ largest city-owned properties: the old Titan tire plant on Kelly Avenue.

Mayor Darryl Grennell and the Board of Aldermen are entangled in a legal dispute against Titan, the site’s former tenant that ended its lease of the long-dormant factory in 2017. The mayor and aldermen since last year have been holding frequent meetings closed to the public to discuss litigation against the Illinois-based company.

Few details about the issues involved have been publicly brought up by the city officials this past year when they hold their regular meetings that are open. However, in sidebar discussions, Grennell and City Attorney Bob Latham have said they ultimately want Titan to take ownership of the sprawling white-elephant property. It and the deteriorating buildings are a financial and legal albatross for the city. The structures have likely outlived their industrial usefulness and should be torn down, Latham said.

The almost 80-year-old tire plant is about a half-mile from Martin Luther King Street between MLK and D'Evereaux Drive in north Natchez.

The tire factory was constructed for Armstrong Rubber Co. in 1939 with state financing. The property was deeded to the city. The Natchez tire manufacturer once had more than 1,000 employees. After Armstrong left, the property was used by successor tire-making tenants Fidelity, Condere and Titan. Titan took over in 1998 but shuttered the factory in 2001. It continued to lease the vacant property from the city until last year. Titan removed factory equipment that belongs to the city, which is a point of contention in the city's legal dispute with Titan, Latham said.

The industrial property that abuts Kelly and South Concord avenues has been the source of pollution. Gasoline and cleaning solvents seeped into groundwater. It’s been monitored by the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Discussions are underway among Natchez and Adams County government leaders about applying for a federal grant to pay for further assessing the extent of the pollution and how much clean-up costs would be. The federal government funnels money to the Department of Environmental Quality to rehabilitate polluted industrial properties that could be redeveloped. The so-called Brownfields program enables states, communities and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment work together to prevent, assess, clean up and reuse polluted properties. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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