Article Comment 

Supervisor lays out funding plan for parks, other projects


Kristin Mamrack



During Friday''s meeting of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors, Board President and District 1 Supervisor Harry Sanders presented a plan to fund ongoing and proposed projects in the county, without increasing taxes. 




Hospital sale  


Sanders proposed using the county''s $4.8 million in interest accrued, from the 2006 sale of Baptist Memorial-Hospital Golden Triangle for $30 million to Baptist, to fund construction of a new Lowndes County Health Department facility, a new administrative building for county offices and a remodeling of the Lowndes County Courthouse. 


Following the meeting, the supervisors held a groundbreaking ceremony on the site of the new health department facility, at the intersection of Warpath and Lehmberg roads in East Columbus. 


The 12,300-square-foot facility, which will be completed in August, is expected to cost the county $2.4 million; The county previously secured a $600,000 Mississippi Development Authority Community Development Block Grant for the project and the supervisors earlier voted to purchase the property on which the facility will be built for $230,000. 




Administrative building 


The supervisors earlier used $950,000 of the hospital interest money to purchase the former First Federal Bank building, at 12th Street and Main Street, for space for county administrative offices. 


Sanders suggested using $35,000 of the interest money to fund architectural and engineering services on the project and $315,000 to renovate the facility. 


The supervisors Friday voted to advertise for bids on the renovation project.  


Sanders also proposed using $300,000 of the interest money to remodel the Lowndes County Courthouse and $20,000 for architectural and engineering services on the project. 




Burns Bottom and neighborhood parks 


Sanders'' proposal also included using $285,000 of the hospital interest money to purchase property in Burns Bottom from a core group of 15 landowners, whose property is essential to locating a proposed soccer complex, which has been likened to a downtown park, in the area. 


All 15 owners of parcels in the core group of land have agreed to sell their property to the county for its appraised value. 


Sanders proposed using $300,000 to purchase Burns Bottom property, on the peripheral of the core parcels of land, to be used for the project; Columbus-Lowndes Development Link and county officials currently are negotiating with property owners in the peripheral of the Burns Bottom site. 


And, to fund the county''s share -- $850,000 -- of a proposed $1.6 million plan to upgrade and improve the county''s neighborhood parks, Sanders proposed using interest money from the hospital sale. 


The neighborhood parks plan, as presented by the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority, includes construction of community centers and other work at Townsend Park, Sim Scott park, East Columbus Gym, Northaven Woods Park, Anderson Grove Park, Caledonia and New Hope. 


"I would hope we would work out a financial deal with the city, if they can''t come up with their share (of the neighborhood parks plan cost,)" said District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks, but Sanders assured him city officials earlier said they would be able to pay the city''s share of the project. 




Long-term projects 


To fund the county''s costs in developing the Burns Bottom soccer complex, Sanders proposed using a 15-year general obligation bond, financed at 5 percent. 


He proposed refinancing an existing bond, which pays off in June of 2012, and adding $6.25 million to the existing bond. Doing so would lower the county''s current payment by about $100,000, he added. 


The county earlier committed to $3,250,000 to develop the complex, if the city pays to refurbish the Trotter Convention Center. 


"If the city decides they can''t afford to renovate the Trotter, is the soccer complex dead?" asked Brooks. 


"No," responded Sanders. 


Sanders proposed using $3 million from the bonds to fund construction of a new Justice Court building. 


Additionally, he proposed using a 30-year $20 million Rural Development Authority loan, financed at 2-percent interest, to fund the Golden Triangle Regional Global Industrial Aerospace Park megasite project, including providing water and sewer infrastructure to the site and $11.25 million for purchasing land in the park. 


Brooks noted he hadn''t received enough information on the project and Sanders said the county has an option to purchase land in the park, but it wouldn''t "come up" for two years. 


The Golden Triangle Regional Global Industrial Aerospace Park is located on 2,500 acres just west of Golden Triangle Regional Airport. The region already has an aerospace culture present, with Stark Aerospace, Aurora Flight Sciences and American Eurocopter already located in the park, and Columbus Air Force Base nearby.  


The Link and Greater Starkville Development Partnership have started marketing the megasite to bring in additional companies.  


The supervisors Friday were asked to review Sanders'' funding proposals, which likely will be discussed at a future supervisors meeting; no action was taken on the plan.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment disgusted commented at 11/16/2009 11:49:00 AM:

I hope there are funds available to do something with all the traffic that will happen on Lehmberg because of the health department's location. It's hard enough now pulling out from a side road onto Lehmberg. Geez, does the stupidity in this town never end!


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