June 12, 2009
Soccer moms and dads, before it''s too late -- and it might already be too late -- drive down to Burns Bottom. That''s the area just down the hill from Riverhill Chevron, the gas station/convenience store operated by Sanders Oil. At the station, turn off Main Street and go down the hill in the direction of the Hitching Lot, site of the Farmers'' Market.
You''ll pass the Hitching Lot on your left. Go another block, then on your left slow down and try to imagine a soccer field. I know, it takes some imagining, just try. Go another block and imagine another soccer field. Don''t sweat the stuff on the right side of the street; none of that will change.
To the west, strewn across the lowlands will be three more fields. Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders has touted this site because it will clean up a "blighted" neighborhood.
The only thing this project will clean up is part of two swamps and privet-choked fields. One house will disappear. In the retail trade, they call this "bait and switch."
Some people think Burns Bottom dangerous. Probably not. Certainly, it''s edgy. I stroll through there on evening walks two or three nights a week and am comfortable doing so. Not everyone would be, though. Would I want to leave my 8-year-old down there unattended to play soccer? Don''t think so.
Will a soccer complex in Burns Bottom be the drawing card we hope it will be for tournaments and the like? Don''t take my word for it. Drive down there and see for yourself. Drive down there at night. Not just soccer parents, if you are a taxpayer or a resident of Lowndes County, this will affect you in some way.
While certainly they are a community asset, soccer fields are not things of beauty. If you are a kids soccer coach, they might be, but for the rest of us, they are chain link fences, metal light poles with bright lights and flat grassy fields. Great for soccer, and perhaps weekend sandlot football games, but not good for much else. And certainly not something you would want to see next to a historic district.
As City Councilman Jay Jordan said the other day, "Never in my 30 years have I seen a soccer field attract real estate development."
Harry, this is a bad idea.
We''ve been talking about this longer than The W has been talking about a name change, and that has been a long time.
Now, all of a sudden we seem to have ants in our pants to do something. On Sept. 1, 2 and 3 a Main Street sponsored group of planners will be here to conduct a charrette, a process that helps towns such as ours make wise planning decisions.
Carthage and Eupora have participated in this same charrette program. Those two towns came up with innovative solutions to make them more livable and attractive to visitors. You can bet neither of them chose to put soccer fields in the middle of town in an area that floods as frequently as does Burns Bottom.
Harry and Robert, I know you are well-meaning, conscientious public officials, but you''re not city planners. Help is on the way, if we will only wait for it.
Harry, there''s nothing wrong with slowing down, and there''s nothing wrong with changing your mind.
We''re talking about something we and our children are going to live with the rest of our lives. If we make the right decision, it will be a source of civic pride. We do something stupid, and it will be an enduring disappointment.
You said you wanted to make this area like Central Park. That''s a grand idea; only in Central Park when they do play soccer, it''s in grassy meadows. There are no soccer fields per se in Central Park.
And neither should there be in Burns Bottom.
Birney Imes III is the Editor and Publisher of The Dispatch.
AgreewithBirney commented at 6/12/2009 1:58:00 PM:
Since you brought up The W name change process in this story ..... that is a terrible idea as well!
kay commented at 6/12/2009 2:02:00 PM:
Well said, Birney.
charles l miller commented at 6/12/2009 2:28:00 PM:
re:sportsplex decision. I sat through a lengthly and thorough presentation regarding where to put a series of soccer fields. It was finally decided. many may not like the choices but our elected officials are there to make decisions for us. representative democracy may have flaws, but it is omnipotent.
Jim Walker commented at 6/12/2009 5:15:00 PM:
Great Burns Bottom article Birney and you did it without calling them Idiots outright. To expand on your article--- Six measly soccer fields is no better that what we already have at Cook Elem. School! And that is a Safer Location! We will still have to use both locations to play soccer. I will say it outright, the officials and supervisors who allowed this to happen are Idiots, they are Stubborn Mules (Jack Asses) with no foresight for our community. They are just like an ostrich with their heads stuck somewhere and its not in sand! I urge everyone to contact these officials and tell them what a poor decision this is. Below is the eMail address for each City Offical and County Supervisor: CCLRA
Greg Lewis firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Short email@example.com
City Council Members
They have just limited the growth of downtown and have handicapped our Community!
*** By the way at this exact moment Burns Bottom is flooding due to the heavy thunder storms coming down as I type this. 4:10pm Friday 6/12/09.
tom brown commented at 6/12/2009 5:31:00 PM:
jim walker good work and i agree with you and birney...that bottom is a tight fit and as birney and yourself have aluded to it has a set flood regime...this is truly a bone-head idea....why not wait till the main street group of planners visit columbus in early september as birney mentioned in his column (today friday the 12th). if its about saving face well think of the blowback down the road if this important project is not given the correct condideration and location...it would be hard to fix if a blunder/mistake was made in locating this important facility...thanks tb
tom brown commented at 6/12/2009 5:47:00 PM:
i just wrote something and wanted to say that having a "i don't know and i don't want to know" perspective in our state and local government should be a thing of the past...the future of this area is very bright and it should be dealt with accordingly... success engenders success and it builds on itself...do it right and go on to the next thing!!!
Jim Walker commented at 6/12/2009 11:08:00 PM:
Birney,in Sundays paper, this Burns Bottom decision needs to show up as a "Thorn" in the Roses and Thorn section. This is really a "Nail in the Coffin" for future progress within the area of Downtown.
Calling All Soccer Moms commented at 6/13/2009 6:52:00 AM:
Sprtsplex, not just 6 soccer fields? Was that not the original goal 10 yrs ago? Now we are settling on this? It bothers me that Columbus' future is our children and their sports yet the Officials dont have a clue. I agree that 6 soccer fields is no better than the nine we already have a Cook. I urge all parents who have children playing any kind of sport to Voice their opinions on this issue. What happened to Building a true Sportsplex and spending $10 million on it? Harry if you want a Central Park, then Propst Park can be it, once a real Sportsplex is built. Parents please contact your City and County Officials, write letters to the Dispatch speak out for our children and for their future. Columbus needs a real Sportsplex! Not just six flooded soccer fields. Soccer Moms and Dads please step up and voice your opinions. I am urging everyone too.
Majority Tools commented at 6/13/2009 11:02:00 AM:
Taking away property from 32 people is enough reason to not choose Burns Bottom.