NATCHEZ — Congress has sent to the White House a bill that will authorize the transfer of surplus land along the Natchez Trace Parkway to the city of Natchez.
Final approval came yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill now goes to President Barack Obama.
The National Park Service acquired the land in the 1990s as a possible termination point for the Trace. The scenic highway now ends at the Liberty Road intersection in Natchez, leaving about 67 acres.
The city of Natchez will take title to 37 acres next to the local high school, locally called the “bean field.” The state of Mississippi will hold title to the other 30 acres.
Mayor Butch Brown said while the land is designated for recreational purposes, a lack of funding may keep that from happening.
“It’s still not too late to develop it. We haven’t lost our interest in recreation and our zeal for wellness. It’s an option for recreation,” Brown said.
Brown said he hopes the state will sell the land and give the city the proceeds to fund two projects.
One would be to pave the road from the Natchez Trace to the Emerald Mound, a Native American mound in northern Adams County.
Brown said any remaining money could help the National Park Service with work to prepare the Fort Rosalie site on the Natchez bluffs for public use.
The NPS wants the land developed into a park with picnic tables and historical checkpoints on the walking trails by the Natchez tricentennial in 2016.
“We may be able to fund these two needed projects at no cost to the federal government,” Brown said.