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Caledonia's Ola. J. Pickett Park to expand


A soccer goal is placed on the baseball outfield at Ola J. Pickett Park in Caledonia. In the foreground is second base. The town is outgrowing its park, and officials are looking at a 20-acre expansion.

A soccer goal is placed on the baseball outfield at Ola J. Pickett Park in Caledonia. In the foreground is second base. The town is outgrowing its park, and officials are looking at a 20-acre expansion.
Photo by: Kelly Tippett  Buy this photo.



Jason Browne



Caledonia is getting an extension to Ola J. Pickett Park. All that remains to be seen is how. 


Lowndes County, the Columbus Lowndes Recreation Authority and the Town of Caledonia are weighing options for the best way to purchase 20 acres in the southeast corner of the park to add soccer fields, tennis courts, a playground and a concession stand. 


Caledonia Alderman Mike Savage says the community has expressed a "huge demand" for expanding Ola J. Pickett''s 11 acres. 


"We''ve outgrown the park. Right now we''re playing youth soccer on our baseball fields and that''s tough on our turf. We''ve got over 300 kids in soccer. And when we started flag football last year we were hoping for three or four teams and wound up with 10. We''re really busting at the seams right now and we need this," Savage said. 


Lowndes County has heard the cries from Caledonia and budgeted $100,000 to buy the privately owned land adjacent to the park. The money is part of a $1.7 million joint venture between the county, Columbus and the CLRA to complete a list of recreation projects in the city and county. 


However, state law prohibits the county from donating the money to Caledonia to buy the land, so everyone involved is looking for another route. CLRA attorney Will Cooper has been in touch with the state auditor''s office seeking advisement on several options. 


Lowndes County could buy the land and lease it or donate it to Caledonia. But the most likely scenario, according to Harry Sanders, supervisor of District 1 where Caledonia is located, would see the county giving the $100,000 to the CLRA, which would buy the land and lease it to Caledonia. 


Technically, Caledonia will be a co-owner of the property since the town, which has its own parks and recreation authority, is putting up $20,000 to build and maintain the park.  


Lowndes currently co-owns the Caledonia Town Hall. 


Savage says Caledonia lacks the funds to purchase the land on its own, but should have no problem maintaining the park without the help of the CLRA. 


"Our programs basically pay for themselves with what we take in with registration fees and concession stands. The money we raise down there stays in the park," he said. 


Savage says Caledonia is ready to move on the park as soon as Cooper hears back from the state auditor''s office and the land is purchased from Columbus veterinarian Jim Dowdle. 


The CLRA''s project list also includes 5,000-square-foot community centers in New Hope and Anderson Grove, and replacing the Charles Brown Gym and Sims Scott Park center in Columbus.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment mrvoodoo commented at 10/28/2010 4:34:00 AM:

Could, also, use somewhere for the youth football programs to practice. Right now we've got a team practicing behind the YMCA and others practicing on T-ball fields. Would be nice to have somewhere that the kids could get a grasp on the type of field they'd be playing on in a game situation.


Article Comment jason browne commented at 10/28/2010 11:31:00 AM:

Savage said the soccer fields will likely double as football fields.


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