The Mississippi Department of Transportation’s plan to widen Port Gibson’s Church Street and make it the permanent route of US 61 is disastrous for all Mississippians. It’s not just a tragedy for a handful of homeowners who live on Church Street and whose property will be destroyed along with their peace and quiet; it’s a tragedy for anyone who cares about the beautiful historic churches that give Church Street its name. Large trucks moving along this highway at any speed is damaging to these historic churches and homes and dangerous for the citizens who want to attend church.
Why should Port Gibson’s Church Street be of any concern to Natchezians?
If MDOT can do this to Church Street, they can do it to our streets. Destroying what makes Port Gibson unique and replacing it with what everyone else has, generic gas stations and fast food restaurants, is economic suicide. It’s true for Natchez as well. I hope that Natchez citizens will continue to reject short-sighted business plans by ignorant developers that threaten our historic buildings and neighborhoods. Currently, my friends in Port Gibson (black and white) want new businesses to build up around a bypass, like the ones in Natchez and Brookhaven and the countless historic towns throughout the South. They want to encourage tourism on Church Street and downtown. Fortunately, they have a new mayor who is pro-preservation. New citizens are now moving to Port Gibson because of affordable historic homes and buildings. This is similar to Natchez. Without the charm of our historic downtown and renovated buildings, Natchez loses its strongest asset as a unique place that brings tourism and, more importantly, new citizens with the money and time to help the city maintain its historic architecture. We should be proud of being a destination city that attracts new citizens who want to invest their assets in Natchez, pay taxes on the property they renovate, and become active in our community.
If you are as outraged as I am about the destruction of Church Street and concerned about the future of historic buildings in Mississippi, log on to http://www.thepetitionsite.com/ and go to Port Gibson’s Church Street site to sign the petition and state your opposition. If Natchez is assaulted by a plan this stupid, we would hope that the citizens of Port Gibson would support us. Therefore, let’s support them!
One more thing. My friends in Port Gibson tell me that Natchez’s former mayor and head of MDOT Butch Brown is fully supporting this disastrous decision and indeed pushing for it. Letters to the Clarion Ledger support this belief. I find this hard to believe since Butch Brown has the reputation of supporting preservation in Natchez. The Natchez Garden Club’s Party for Preservation was held at his historic home Mount Repose last month! Can anyone explain to me why Natchez’s native son is pushing for the destruction of Port Gibson’s Church Street ?