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Leaders to choose three candidates for sportsplex site


Neal Wagner



Leaders tonight will chose the "best three of the lot" from a pool of 11 properties submitted by local landowners for the multi-purpose sportsplex project. 


The properties, which range in size from 50 acres to 156 acres and are priced from $247,250 to nearly $3.9 million, were submitted to the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority and the city-county ad-hoc recreation committee during the past several weeks. 


And though CLRA, city and county officials have expressed satisfaction with the 11 pieces of property submitted, the two agencies tonight must whittle the list to three tracts of land. 


"The way it will work tonight is that we will present all of the properties again before we go into executive session," said Columbus Ward 2 City Councilwoman Susan Mackay, a member of the ad-hoc committee. "While in closed session, we will review all of the properties and examine them until we come out with our three favorites. 


"Hopefully we will be able to present those properties to the Board of Supervisors Friday and the City Council next Tuesday," Mackay added. "We just want to get the ball rolling on this project as soon as we can." 


After the properties are selected and presented to the City Council and the Board of Supervisors, the pair of government bodies will begin attempting to fund the sportsplex project, which will include CLRA''s soccer, youth softball and football programs and may cost more than $10 million. 


Tonight''s meeting will begin at 5 p.m. in the CLRA administration building at Propst Park. 


Though Mackay and other members of the ad-hoc committee and CLRA board would not reveal their personal preferences on the properties before tonight''s meeting, visitors to have selected a clear favorite. 


As of this morning, 32 percent of the 107 voters in the Dispatch online sportsplex land poll, active since March 4, had cast their votes for a 156-acre tract of land near the intersection of the Columbus Riverwalk and the Highway 82 bridge over the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.  


The Riverwalk property is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers and would come with a total price tag of $474,864, placing it at the lower end of the properties'' prices. 


Two other land parcels, one off Highway 82 near the Macon-Meridian exit and one in the Burns Bottom area behind the Hitching Lot farmers'' market in Columbus, were nearly tied for second place in the poll. 


The 54-acre tract of land in Burns Bottom is held by 31 separate landowners, and would come at a price of about $462,840. The 50-acre land parcel off Highway 82 near the GoBox building is owned by Grayco Inc., and comes with an estimated cost of about $875,000.




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