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Neighborhood parks cleared for $1.7 million facelift


Kristin Mamrack



The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors voted Friday to commit $850,000 to a $1.7 million plan to renovate neighborhood parks; the Columbus City Council earlier committed $850,000 to the plan. 


According to the park improvement plan, which was developed by the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority and presented to the supervisors and City Council during a Nov. 3 joint meeting, money will be spent for improvements on Townsend Park, Sim Scott Park, East Columbus Gym, Northaven Woods Park, Anderson Grove Park, Caledonia and New Hope. 


District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith asked if improvements for Crawford and Artesia were included in the plan. 


"That''s the Parks and (Recreation board''s) call," said Sanders. "They''re going to decide where they want to spend this money." 


"I can''t vote for this, because I don''t know what I''m voting for," said Smith, who said "I don''t need to see that," when handed a copy the improvement plan the supervisors were shown Nov. 3. 


"$1.7 million is for this (plan)," said District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks. "We don''t want Parks and Rec to change this. What we are approving is this document." 


"If they come in under budget and we''ve got extra money, I don''t have a problem with Parks and Rec taking that money and going to Crawford and Artesia," Sanders said, suggesting if construction of the sports complex proposed for the Burns Bottom area is completed for less than the amount budgeted, the extra money also could be used for improvements in Crawford and Artesia. 


"Some of these things in front of us, we need off our plate," Brooks said, calling for a vote on the parks improvement plan.  


"We can focus on Crawford and Artesia once we get this done," Sanders assured Smith. 


The supervisors agreed to instruct CLRA Executive Director Roger Short to develop a plan for improvements in Crawford and Artesia and present the plan to the supervisors, who agreed to use money left from the soccer complex construction and the improvement of other neighborhood parks on the two communities. 


The approved parks plan calls for $390,000 to be spent in Townsend Park to demolish the Charles Brown gym and build a 5,000-square-foot community center, for $290,000 to be spent in Sim Scott Park to demolish the old Boys and Girls Club building and construct a 5,000-square-foot community building, and for $120,000 to be spent to renovate the East Columbus gym and pave the parking area. 


Additionally, $30,000 will be spent to construct a 600-square-foot open air pavilion and half-mile asphalt walking track at Northaven Woods Park; $265,000 will be spent to construct a 5,000-square-foot community center at Anderson Grove Park; $100,000 will be spent for land acquisition for future recreation expansion in Caledonia; and $290,000 will be spent to purchase property and construct a 5,000-square-foot community center in New Hope. 


Money also will be spent on architectural and engineering surveys, as well as geotechnical and other surveys for the project. 


In another matter, the supervisors considered a request from Joann Potts of Prairie Opportunity, Inc. to partner with the non-profit agency, which was founded in 1965. 


The private agency helps with "employment, education and housing," Potts said, noting the agency tries to "prevent foreclosures and evictions," provides financial assistance for workforce training, and provides "subsidized employment for eligible clients who can find employment in non-profit entities," like city and county government.  


Under a new community service grant as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, Prairie Opportunity will pay hired contract employees'' salaries of $7.25 an hour, with no benefits, if the county agrees to allow the employees to "work in a capacity where they can learn skills" and the employees'' supervisors agree to submit bi-weekly progress reports to Prairie Opportunity. 


The employees placed within the county would be considered short-term "contract" employees, whose paychecks come from Prairie Opportunity, Potts noted, adding the non-profit agency would conduct required background checks and drug screenings. 


The board took the request under advisement.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment chill commented at 1/17/2010 9:55:00 PM:

How did THREE existing facilities get in such bad shape they are having to be "demolished"!!! My bet is that the $1.7 million in new facilities will meet the same "fate" that these existing buildings have met, in just a few short years probably!? You'll have the same people using the new ones that used the old ones....and the same people "taking care" of these facilities. How could anything be different?
I want our children to have a good place for recreation, but we MUST teach them to respect the property that is provided for their use. I hope that will happen.


Article Comment Disgusted commented at 1/18/2010 12:00:00 PM:

The money for the East Columbus gym would be better spent elswhere. It will just be run down again within a year of it being built. Also, we don't need a hangout for a bunch of thugs. That money would be better spent fixing the drainage problem in East Columbus. Have you seen the temporary fix...a frigging pond where the little track was located at the Gym!?! Why not permanently fix the problem to begin with? Duh...


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