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Plans previewed for downtown enhancements
from Staff Reports - NEWS
December 13, 2017 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. — City officials are preparing an application for funds to redo downtown streets and sidewalks to make Main Street Natchez more attractive and easier to traverse.

Mayor Darryl Grennell and Natchez aldermen on Tuesday reviewed plans to repave cracked, uneven sidewalks considered hazardous and not handicap accessible. The Mississippi Department of Transportation would pay most of the estimated $1.2 million, said city Community Development Director James Johnston, with the city having to chip in about $282,000.

Johnston pointed to various sections of downtown – such as the steep sidewalk steps at the intersection of Main and Pearl streets – that violate the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Improvements can be done to maintain Natchez’ “old-town charm and also make it ADA-compliant,” Johnston said.

New bike paths, trees and lanterns along sidewalks are part of the plans presented to the board and Grennell.

“I hope all this is to bring people downtown to shop,” said Alderman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis.

While she and other board members seemed receptive with the mayor to seek the MDOT funds, they’re uncertain how the city will come up with its share. They also pointed to the ongoing study by consultants on how to revitalize downtown Natchez. The initiative is sponsored by FOR Natchez, a private community organization working to spawn more downtown development. It’s expected to present recommendations early next year.
With a Jan. 31 deadline to apply for the MDOT grant, Johnston and other city officials plan to collaborate with FOR Natchez, the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce and downtown businesses. If Natchez does apply, MDOT is scheduled to decide in April or May whether the city gets the grant, Johnston said.

He pointed to Fairhope, Ala., as an example of what downtown Natchez could look like. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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