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County approves $100K for soccer complex additions

 

Jeff Clark

 

The ball is now in the City of Columbus' court as the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors Monday voted to give $100,000 in additional funding to the Columbus Soccer Complex. The request for the funding was made by Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority Executive Director Roger Short. The city will be asked for the same amount at tonight's council meeting. 

 

"We are trying to get funding for a second concession facility," Short said. "This will provide additional restrooms and concessions and alleviate the parking situation. I feel I can do all of it for $200,000 or less." 

 

The lack of adequate restrooms and parking has plagued the $5 million facility since it opened in September. Short, District 1 Supervisor Harry Sanders and Columbus Mayor Robert Smith have been publicly criticized for the park's inadequacies. Short said he hopes the new facilities will get the entire community behind the project in the Burns Bottom area. 

 

"There have been some negative comments about the soccer complex," Short said. "Some of the comments have been that there was poor planning for the project. The complex was well-planned -- we just ran out of money. I hope the whole community will get back on board and support the soccer complex." 

 

The board voted unanimously to fund Short's request, but the vote is contingent upon approval from the Columbus City Council to share in the costs of the additions. Short is scheduled to make the request at tonight's council meeting.  

 

"The mayor said they would approve it and write us a check and pay for it," Sanders said. 

 

The additional funding will come from the county's budget, which will be amended at a later date, according to county administrator Ralph Billingsley. District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks said he expects additional costs down the road. 

 

"We know there are going to be some additional costs," Brooks said. "I suggest if there is money left from this $100,000, we set that money aside for the soccer complex." 

 

One future cost could be the extension of Coretta Street and making the street a one-way road. Sanders previously said the county is studying the possibility of extending the street, which would provide an additional entrance into the complex. 

 

"We need to get (project engineer) Kevin Stafford to get with Tombigbee Water Management to see if we can use some of our money to pay for the supplies," Sanders said. 

 

The county also voted Oct. 31 to allow Short to purchase a half-acre property at the north end of the complex for $5,000. That land will be used add parking for the complex.

 

 

 

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