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Rec board awaits financial studies on proposed sportsplex sites


Neal Wagner



The Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority this week likely will receive results from the final study to be completed before the agency seeks funding for its multi-purpose sportsplex project, board members announced during a Monday meeting. 


"We''ve already received the wetlands and environmental delineation studies of the three properties, and now we''re just waiting on the complete infrastructure and cost analysis studies," said CLRA Executive Director Roger Short. "And we hope to have that this week." 


Crews are working to complete the studies on three properties selected by the CLRA as potential sites for the sportsplex, which one day will house the county''s soccer and football programs. 


The properties studied were a 156-acre tract of land near the Columbus Riverwalk, 50 acres near the Highway 82 Macon-Meridian exit and 54 acres, owned by 31 separate landowners, in the city''s Burns Bottom area that includes the Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market. 


"Once we have those complete set of studies, our board and the city-county ad-hoc recreation committee will get together at some point to discuss the findings before we present the studies to the City Council and the Board of Supervisors," said Short. "Either our board will meet with the ad-hoc committee or each entity will meet separately a little later this month. 


"If we want to call a special meeting, we can just do that," Short added, noting the Board of Supervisors will meet May 15, and the City Council will meet May 19. 


Once the studies are completed, CLRA officials will have an estimate of the costs associated with each piece of property, in addition to purchase price. 


The Burns Bottom land comes with a true tax value of $462,840. The Grayco Inc.-owned land near the Macon-Meridian exit carries an estimated price of about $875,000 and the Corps land near the intersection of the Riverwalk and Highway 82 is expected to ring in at about $474,864. 


Because the properties contain different amounts of existing infrastructure, the cost analyses could vary significantly, Short has said. 


Although Short previously predicted the cost analysis studies would be completed before Monday''s board meeting, he said Monday the studies "more than likely" will be completed by the end of this week. 


"It is my understanding that all three of these properties are doable," said CLRA Board President Scott Hannon. "Once we get the results of these studies, we will have a better idea of how practical each property is." 


In other business, the board: 


n Discussed the possibility of constructing a softball field near the Plum Grove Community Center off Whispering Pines Road in southern Lowndes County. 


"(District 4) Supervisor Jeff Smith came to me recently and said he has been working on a property swap with a gentleman down there for about three months," said Short. "If the property swap is successful and Weyerhaeuser gets the land, they have indicated they would donate some of the property to parks and rec." 


Weyerhaeuser likely would donate about a 10-acre plot to the north of Whispering Pines Road to CLRA, Short added. 


"Jeff asked us if we could build just a community softball field down there if they were to secure the land," Short said. "He said he could get the county to fund that for us, so it wouldn''t cost us anything. 


"Of course, we can''t do anything until after the land swap is successful," Short added. 


After discussing the matter, board members agreed they would be in favor of the project if the land swap is successful.




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