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Natchez, Adams County boards taking on pool construction
from Staff Reports - NEWS
January 18, 2017 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The city and county boards are taking more control of the long-planned community pool’s construction after expressing impatience Tuesday with delays and cost overruns with it being managed by the Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission.

“They’re going to keep pushing it down the road, and I’m tired of that,” said Natchez Alderman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis.

In a joint meeting Tuesday with Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell, the Board of Aldermen and Adams County Board of Supervisors agreed to step in to find a pool builder after bids sought by the Recreation Commission far exceeded the $1 million budgeted for construction. The lowest bid received last month was $1.7 million.

The county and city leaders said the Recreation Commission – nine members appointed by supervisors and aldermen – appear ill-equipped to manage public funds and adhere to public purchasing laws.

“There are rules that have got to be followed,” said county board President Mike Lazarus.

While the Recreation Commission shaved expenses proposed by Wilmar Construction down to $1.4 million, supervisors and aldermen decided Tuesday to get a better handle of the pool construction plans and take charge of the bidding process.

The two boards in 2015 adopted an agreement to combine funds for a community recreation program run by the Recreation Commission and the Jackson-based YMCA. A groundbreaking ceremony for the recreation complex at Liberty Park was held April 2016 with ambitious hopes the pool could be open last summer.

New ballfields have already been laid out while design plans for the eight-lane swimming pool have been underway since early last year. Basketball courts are also in the works.

Arceneaux-Mathis expressed hope new bids for constructing the pool can be received in March after the required public notice to potential contractors is posted.

She’s previously expressed concerns about how the Recreation Commission has managed funds turned over to it by the city and county boards. The Board of Aldermen has asked the commission to better explain how city recreation funds are being used.

In addition to the pool bids going over budget, the laying out of the soccer fields went $30,000 over the $80,000 that the commission contracted to pay Camo Construction. County supervisors have questioned whether the cost overrun was properly justified by the Recreation Commission. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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