NATCHEZ — Bids are now being accepted by the city of Natchez for new playground equipment as officials continue to work with a $2 million bond to update the city’s parks and recreation facilities.
At a public meeting with the city’s recreation committee at the Natchez Convention Center on Tuesday, officials briefed about 20 attendees on the status of planned improvements at the six neighborhood parks: North Natchez Park, Osceola Park , Jack Waite Park on McCabe Street, Duncan Park, Concord Avenue Park, and the Neighborhood Playground on Madison Street.
“We will have state-of-the-art recreation for our children in and around Natchez,” Alderman Valencia Hall said at the meeting.
Sanora Cole, director of parks and recreation for the town of Natchez, said work on the first phase of the Duncan Park Golf Club renovation is underway. This includes work on the facade of the building and moving the offices to the pro shop on the left side of the building.
The city budgeted $500,000 for the project and planned to match that with a $500,000 grant, “But we won’t be able to apply for that grant until 2023,” Cole said.
The city also budgeted $500,000 for renovations to the North Natchez Youth Center and used it for community gatherings and leases for private events such as birthday parties.
The cost of work on the center is estimated at $500,000, so additional funds must also be found for this project, Cole said.
Hall, who chairs the city’s recreation committee, said both buildings have been submitted to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for historic landmarks, which could open up other funding opportunities.
“Once we have that, we can get more grants for both buildings,” Hall said. “There were discussions early on about demolishing the North Natchez building and I said no, we won’t. There is history in this building.
Part of this project also involves updating the restrooms and making the facilities ADA compliant. At their last board meeting, Natchez officials agreed to add additional restrooms to North Natchez Park, a request made by Alderman Billie Joe Frazier after a heated argument that the washroom facilities at the Duncan Park were better than North Natchez.
In addition to restoring the two buildings, updating playground equipment and bathrooms, and adding picnic tables, the city is also looking to build two additional tennis courts in Duncan Park. . The Duncan Park baseball diamond will also have new turf added and should be ready for play by next baseball season, Cole said.
During her nine months as the city’s director of parks and recreation, Cole led several programs to encourage children, families and friends to get out and have fun, such as bike rides, hunts Easter egg and a father-daughter dance, and many more are planned. in the near future. These events have been expanded to all city parks to be inclusive and so everyone can know where they are, she said.
She added that those interested in what’s going on can follow the Natchez Parks and Recreation page on Facebook, where she regularly posts event flyers.
Assistant tennis manager Frankie Spence said people could also sign up for tennis and pickleball lessons, and a cross between the two, for all ages. Summer school runs from June 6 to June 22, he said.
“We’re looking for ways to make it fun for kids, adults, and everyone,” Spence said. “I want to hear people laugh. We don’t have enough. We will try to reach as many people as possible. »
Richard Burke, executive assistant to Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson, said that after pickleball, the “fastest growing sport in America” is disc golf. The Rotary Club of Natchez, Rotary International and the Community Alliance have raised funds to complete the 18-hole disc golf course at Duncan Park and the town plans to add signage to the course to direct players.
Disc golf tournaments could draw hundreds of players to the city, Burke said, adding that the course offers both an opportunity for fun and a potential economic benefit.
For more information on upcoming recreation programs or to register for programs, visit citynatchez.recdesk.com.