February 10, 2009
A public meeting to discuss recreation in Columbus and Lowndes County will be held at 5 p.m. today in the courtroom of the Columbus Municipal Complex.
The City Council, the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors and members of the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority board of directors are expected to attend the meeting.
Officials will discuss a sportsplex -- proposed for property near the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway -- and a multipurpose facility, proposed for the old Cash Distributing building on Highway 182.
Following a subsequent discussion on neighborhood parks, officials will take comments during a citizens'' input portion of the meeting.
Citizens are urged to limit their comments to two minutes of speaking time.
Robert Williams commented at 2/10/2009 12:08:00 PM:
When discussing this complex please don't make the same mistake that was made here. It was sold to public as a 100% recapture venture using bonds paid for by the citizens. It has been opened for almost 6 years and hasn't come close. 89% is the best it has done.
In these tough times citizens don't need to pay for something that cannot stand alone and recoup its on expenses.
Chuck Yarborough, Columbus commented at 2/10/2009 4:02:00 PM:
Soccer is the fastest growing team sport in the United States, and over 15 million American youth under the age of 18 play the sport currently. For the past 4 years, the number of soccer players participating in CLRA has grown, where now over 500 young people under 12 representing every ethnic and socio-economic group are playing this sport. We've also launched a competitive soccer program to compete with teams and communities across the state.
The success of the program on the field has grown as well. At the District tournament last spring, all five Columbus teams had winning records for the first time. In November, a CLRA team won the Coaches Cup Tournament championship for U-12 girls - a first for a Columbus team - against teams from across the state. Just two weeks ago, the Columbus United competitive soccer U-12 girls finished runner-up in the Frostbite Tournament in Starkville against competition from across North Mississippi.
Additionally, the growth of CLRA soccer has contributed to the growing success and pride in our area public and private school soccer programs.
In a city, county and state where childhood and adult obesity are a tremendous public health problem, the growing participation in soccer is a bright spot in our community's health picture.
That said, these increases in success, participation and pride have occurred in spite of our poor soccer facilities. Last summer, the head coach of Mississippi State University soccer compared our Joe Cook facility with the "worst fields" he'd seen in "inner-city Dublin," Ireland - his hometown. Our current facilities do not drain well enough to play safely within 48 hours of any measurable rainfall. Additionally, our complex does not allow enough field configurations to host tournaments - a real economic loss for the community. Our facilities also have relatively little and poorly-lit parking. The restroom facilities are grossly inadequate. To be blunt, the current fields do not inspire any sense of community pride, and they are a liability for the community as we attempt to attract new residents.
Throughout the past four years, there has been a consistent, if occasional, conversation about a future sportsplex to house soccer programs in our community. Now is the time to make that sportsplex a reality by investing in the future of our children's health and the quality of life for our entire community.
As new corporate and industrial employees enter our area from all over the nation and world, they are making decisions on where to live based, in part, on the quality of recreational facilities. Soccer is the Number One team sport played across our nation and across the face of the planet. To most newcomers, quality soccer facilities send the message that we have a community that cares about the health of our children. Anyone who has visited the soccer complex in Starkville, for instance, can recognize that we lose prospective residents to that community each year solely because of the quality of their recreational facilities. And, the success of their soccer sportsplex has resulted in the addition of a multi-purpose facility, including gymnasium, on the same spot.
It is time to make the soccer sportsplex the top recreational priority for Columbus and Lowndes County.
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