Article Comment 

Burns Bottom dispute continues to sizzle

 

Kristin Mamrack

 

Lowndes County''s District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks Thursday convened a meeting of Columbus'' African-American elected officials, ministers and community leaders to inform them of the city and county''s recent efforts to locate a soccer complex in the Burns Bottom area of downtown Columbus and to discuss needed improvements to the city''s neighborhood parks. 

 

Columbus Mayor Robert Smith, Ward 1 City Councilman Gene Taylor, Ward 4 Councilman Fred Stewart and Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem attended the meeting, along with District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith, Rev. Joe Peoples of Stephens Chapel Baptist Church, Rev. James A. Boyd of Zion Gate Missionary Baptist Church, Inc., Rev. Larry Story of Turner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church and others. 

 

"Nothing was decided," said Robert Smith, noting the meeting was "an informational meeting" with Brooks bringing the ministers up-to-date on the city''s donation of 14.9 acres of land and agreement to provide water, sewage and in-kind services for the soccer complex or downtown park, as some have called the project. 

 

The Board of Supervisors earlier voted to accept the donation and to purchase the remaining needed Burns Bottom property. 

 

Additionally, during a recent joint meeting of the council, supervisors and Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority officials, the supervisors unanimously voted to commit $3.25 million to the development of the complex and alleviate the city of financial responsibility, if the city later pays to renovate the Trotter Convention Center. 

 

But Brooks, who unsuccessfully lobbied for a commitment from the board for a comprehensive plan to renovate and revitalize existing neighborhood parks, said the vote was not legal, as the meeting only was considered a workshop, and another vote now must be taken. 

 

"The meeting was designed to meet with the African-American preachers to bring them up to date on the status of the proposed soccer complex and to voice our concern about neighborhood parks," he said of Thursday''s meeting which was held at the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link and of which the media was not notified. "The sentiment is, we''re not sure if money is allocated to the soccer complex, we''re not certain they will come back to vote and allocate money for neighborhood parks. We are suggesting let''s just wait until we know what it''s going to cost to renovate Sim Scott Park, Townsend Park and a gym in East Columbus. If the Board of Supervisors is going to borrow money for the soccer complex, let''s get enough money to take care of those three parks." 

 

Brooks noted a desire for a new building at Sim Scott Park and renovation of the Charles Brown gym at Townsend Park, including construction of a multi-purpose building and a "rubberized outdoor basketball court with a pavilion." 

 

Additionally, he also expressed hope for a new building for an East Columbus gym and noted CLRA Executive Director Roger Short currently is revising data of needed park renovations and estimated costs. 

 

"We want this to be all part of a comprehensive recreation plan," Brooks said. "We''re saying let''s just do it together. If there''s going to be money borrowed, let''s do it together. All of us are in support of the soccer complex. We just want to be sure those areas are renovated without delay. Let''s just go ahead and make a commitment. 

 

"Our discussion (Thursday) was we wanted to say to the board (of supervisors) these are our concerns and we want them to be considered seriously," he continued. "We are wanting to be assured neighborhood parks are not left out of the equation and we would like to have it all voted on at the same time. Everyone at the table is in support of a soccer complex, but we are concerned about neighborhood parks, because it impacts the lives of people too. We hope the board doesn''t take the position it''s a secondary issue. It''s not about race; it''s about the equitable allocation of resources. That''s all we''re saying. All of us would probably be proud of the soccer field, but all of us would also be proud of some up-to-date (park) facilities." 

 

"We were informed of what''s going on, relative to the soccer complex and seemingly the refusal of the three-vote majority on the Board of Supervisors to accommodate the requests of supervisors Brooks and Smith to revitalize the parks predominantly in the African-American communities," said Story, referring to Board President and District 1 Supervisor Harry Sanders, District 2 Supervisor Frank Ferguson and District 3 Supervisor John Holliman, who voted against various motions by Brooks which would assure the supervisors committed to neighborhood parks projects, while funding the soccer complex. "It seems like there will be a standstill. It seems like the soccer moms have gotten their point across, but (we have not). I hate to put it in terms of race, but that''s what it seems like it is." 

 

During the joint meeting between the supervisors, the council and the CLRA, Robert Smith assured Brooks the governing bodies later would address the issue of neighborhood parks. 

 

"I think that''s just a way of saying no," Story said of the decision to put off further consideration of the issue until a later date. "It seems like the board (of supervisors) has historically been locked around racial lines. I think unless the three-vote majority have hearts of compassion, nothing is going to change, except you''ll see an uprising of the African-American community. People seem quick to jump on the African-American community, as far as drugs and crime, but they don''t want to make an investment in the community. It seems like there''s constant division down racial lines."

 

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment Same Ole Leroy commented at 9/27/2009 7:52:00 AM:


More political grandstanding by a washed-out Leroy Brooks.

Robert Smith had better learn to distance himself from this politician.

Kabir Karriem is already indicating he will run for Mayor in three years.

Mayor Smith, STOP letting Leroy lead you around like a little puppy. Be a man. Be a leader. Be a real Mayor. Stop answering his every whim.

This is a sad community in which we live.

 

Article Comment Wondering commented at 9/27/2009 2:26:00 PM:

Hmm, I wonder what HUGE outcry there would have been if any other supervisor or city councilmen had convened a "whites only" meeting to discuss any of this...CNN and the Justice Dept would be here within hours.
Racism will only end in this CITY when ALL people stop operating on the basis of color.

 

Article Comment supra shoes commented at 9/27/2009 10:03:00 PM:

Your article is nice.Thanks for your sharing,it helps me more.I will look forward to your more wonderfull articles.Have a good time.

 

Article Comment TD commented at 9/27/2009 10:18:00 PM:

I agree 100% with Wondering.

If Harry Sanders organized a meeting where only the pastors of predominately white churches were invited -- to discuss projects of interest mainly to white voters Leroy would be leading the racism charge.

What was going on in that meeting that Leroy and the others wanted kept from the media and from the public - Black, White, Latin, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc.?

Let's also not lose the fact that the Columbus LINK was involved? I'd like to know why they got involved.

 

Article Comment Wes commented at 9/27/2009 11:39:00 PM:

Am I the only one who finds it extremely hypocritical to call a meeting and invite only one race and call the other race racist?

 

Article Comment RS commented at 9/28/2009 7:31:00 AM:

ALL BLACK MEETING? PEOPLE OF HIS AREA VOTE HIM OUT, HES NOT A UNITER, HES A DEVIDER!!! LEORY GET OVER YOURSELF.

 

Article Comment cb commented at 9/28/2009 9:08:00 AM:

Leroy needs to understand that the location for this complex is the closest location for the people in his district. If it doesn't happen now at Burns Bottom it will happen eventually (at a distant location) and then it will not be accessable to the people he is concerned about.

 

Article Comment Slate commented at 9/28/2009 11:28:00 AM:

The Mayor can handle Leroy. What a sanctimonious nitwit, much ado about nothing, the local blowhard.

 

Article Comment "Dump Leroy news" commented at 9/28/2009 3:07:00 PM:

Mr brooks mentions "racial lines"... Wondering and TD,you hit the nail right on the head!!

 

Article Comment willywonka commented at 9/28/2009 10:41:00 PM:

You stupid people. The Black Caucus of the Mississippi Legislature have been doing exactly what Leroy did the other night. You stupid ass people keep electing them back to office year after year. Don't blame anyone but yourselves for putting into office those selfish pricks who waste our taxpayers money on their silly projects.

 

Article Comment walter commented at 9/29/2009 10:23:00 AM:

Say what one will about our various elected-officials, but, to question the manliness and independence of Columbus' mayor is darn ridiculous. If there is one thing that can be said, without any equivocation, it is that Mayor Smith is a strong, forward-looking man who is genuinely concerned about improving the quality of life for all citizens and residents of Columbus and Lowndes County.

Karriem, without doubt, will be a great candidate to replace Mayor smith, at some point within the future. Unless I'm mistaken and have sorely mis-read Karriem's political astuteness, having profitted from a family that has long been actively and positively engaged in politics, I believe he is wise and patient. Despite the not-so-subtle attempt of some to divide and conquer, I'm willing to bet that our dedicated 5th Ward representative realizes that the current mayor is doing a fantastic job, given the economic conditions and resistance he faces from Old Guard leaders still operating within the city and county. To even consider running within the next few years would seem to be out of the question. It could only be justified, in my humble opinion, if there was a major disconnect or alteration in the way the Mayor has been raised and in the way that he governs, between now and the next election. It is my sincere hope and prayer that Mayor Smith will remain physically strong and willing to serve all of the citizens of Columbus far into the future.

The only abnomally concerning the meeting of African people is that it was announced. European people meet all of the time. The latter meetings, regardless of the official agendas, are seldom, if ever, announced before or after. Hopefully, the city will be united and race will be a non-issue. Unfortunately, that day is coming; it has yet to arrive.

 

Article Comment Toby Gray commented at 9/30/2009 8:36:00 AM:

"Dump Leroy News" actually the quote about "racial lines" is attributed to Reverend Story and not Mr. Brooks.

 

Article Comment John Sanders, III commented at 10/6/2009 10:42:00 AM:

I am glad to see everyone is talking about what needs to be done in the city of Columbus. I am also concerned about the condition of Union Cemetery. Who owns this property now and can anyone do something to make it look better?

 

Article Comment John Sanders, III commented at 10/6/2009 2:54:00 PM:

I am glad to see everyone is talking about what needs to be done in the city of Columbus. I am also concerned about the condition of Union Cemetery. Who owns this property now and can anyone do something to make it look better? I am also concerned about the schools that are closing Union Academy, Hunt, Mitchell and Lee. Why is this happening? I am now a citizen of Ohio, but my heart is still in the best city in the world, Columbus, Mississippi

 

Article Comment John Sanders, III commented at 10/6/2009 2:54:00 PM:

I am glad to see everyone is talking about what needs to be done in the city of Columbus. I am also concerned about the condition of Union Cemetery. Who owns this property now and can anyone do something to make it look better? I am also concerned about the schools that are closing Union Academy, Hunt, Mitchell and Lee. Why is this happening? I am now a citizen of Ohio, but my heart is still in the best city in the world, Columbus, Mississippi

 

Article Comment John Sanders, III commented at 10/6/2009 2:54:00 PM:

I am glad to see everyone is talking about what needs to be done in the city of Columbus. I am also concerned about the condition of Union Cemetery. Who owns this property now and can anyone do something to make it look better? I am also concerned about the schools that are closing Union Academy, Hunt, Mitchell and Lee. Why is this happening? I am now a citizen of Ohio, but my heart is still in the best city in the world, Columbus, Mississippi

 

Article Comment John Sanders, III commented at 10/6/2009 2:54:00 PM:

I am glad to see everyone is talking about what needs to be done in the city of Columbus. I am also concerned about the condition of Union Cemetery. Who owns this property now and can anyone do something to make it look better? I am also concerned about the schools that are closing Union Academy, Hunt, Mitchell and Lee. Why is this happening? I am now a citizen of Ohio, but my heart is still in the best city in the world, Columbus, Mississippi

 

Article Comment John Sanders, III commented at 10/6/2009 2:54:00 PM:

I am glad to see everyone is talking about what needs to be done in the city of Columbus. I am also concerned about the condition of Union Cemetery. Who owns this property now and can anyone do something to make it look better? I am also concerned about the schools that are closing Union Academy, Hunt, Mitchell and Lee. Why is this happening? I am now a citizen of Ohio, but my heart is still in the best city in the world, Columbus, Mississippi

 

Article Comment Mary commented at 10/29/2009 11:41:00 PM:

Where is Union Cemetary in Columbus? I have Grandparents buried there, Do you know if the church keep burial records. I am trying to research my family. I was just a kid when they pass. LAst time I visited Columbus MS, They are building up, It has change a lot.

 

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