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May 16, 2014 11:00:17 AM
When the soccer complex was built at the site formerly known as Burns Bottom, one feature that was nixed due to budget constraints was a playground.
If the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks agrees to pool its resources with those of Columbus and Lowndes County through a grant, a play area could be added to the outdoor recreational facility.
Lowndes County supervisors authorized the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District to apply for $200,000 in grant funding to utilize a 0.12-acre parcel between Championship Loop and Third Street North for that purpose. The 50-50 matching grant would mean the city and county would provide $100,000 in matching funds between them. If MDWFP awards the funding, the county and city will throw in $50,000 each for design and installation of the playground as well as sidewalks to access it.
A rendering of the proposed project includes eight swings, several slides and a fall-safe surface among other features.
Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority Director Roger Short said the playground would be a "great quality-of-life project" for the public.
The county and city agreed to their matches during separate meetings on Thursday. City councilman Kabir Karriem expressed support for the project and also proposed the addition of a basketball court.
"The one concern I have that I had even with the (soccer complex) is there's a certain element of constituents that lost service because of the soccer (complex) when you got rid of the basketball courts," Karriem said. "There are some kids and folks who used the basketball courts in the Burns Bottom area that have nowhere to play basketball."
Short said he agreed the city needed to build courts but believed they needed to be in a location separate from the soccer fields.
"I would wish that you would make it incumbent on me to find a location that is suitable for the city as far as basketball," Short said.
Karriem agreed to his request, saying he simply wanted to initiate discussion of new basketball courts.
Supervisors also agreed Thursday at Short's request to amend the CLRA budget and allow an extra $10,000 to pave the currently slagged road off Main Street that goes into the soccer park and ties to Coretta Street.
In March, the county agreed to apply for a separate MDWFP grant that would fund $100,000 of a $125,000 sidewalk project. If the grant is approved, money would be used to construct a 1,500-foot sidewalk connecting the northeast corner of Third Street North and Championship Loop.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation has approved a grant application for a sidewalk connection extending the Riverwalk near the bridges on Moore's Creek and under the Highway 82 bypass. MDOT's grant pays for $480,000 of that walkway, which would be about 980 feet long, and the city and county are splitting the remaining $120,000 required to complete that project down the middle. A bid opening for the MDOT-funded sidewalk will be held June 17 and a contractor will likely be selected at that time.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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