August 26, 2009 2:52:00 PM
To the Columbus Lowndes Parks and Recreation Board who voted unanimously for Burns Bottom as the site for the soccer complex, thank you. And to the ad-hoc committee who also supported the site - thank you as well.
Serving on a public board has taught me the importance of respecting the decisions of the people charged with a mission. More thank you''s to the Board of Supervisors who developed a plan to pay for the soccer complex, a new Health Department building, and a building to house the tax office - freeing up valuable space in the court house.
In the process I recall two votes that effectively supported the Burns Bottom site, one official and one a straw vote. To the City Council who voted to support the site, thank you as well, it demonstrated your commitment to keeping good things inside the city when you can.
Were all the votes unanimous, not that I recall. Does that make them wrong, certainly not. In a democracy, some of the best decisions come from a diversity of thoughts and opinions, and a respect for the majority. In this instance, there were a number of options, each with its own positive and negative. But at the end of the day, Burns Bottom was the best choice of all.
I''ve heard the critics talk about flooding. As someone who spent a lot of time in john boats and hip waders taking people and their possessions out of the Bottom during floods, I can honestly say - Hogwash! That house and little store on the corner by the Hitch (no "ing" on the end) Lot belonged to my grandparents. In those days, the Bottom was a place for families. Working class families, black and white, mingling together around neighborhood groceries, farmers selling their crops on the Hitch Lot, hay being traded at the Hay House - and helping each other when the Tombigbee came visiting.
But that hasn''t happened since about 1979 for pity''s sake. Moore''s Creek has gotten a little rowdy sometimes when its culvert''s got stopped up with trash, but it was back to behaving in a day or so, and the knowledgeable people I have asked tell me that won''t hurt a soccer field or football field one bit.
Nothing about families buying goodies at the market and then moving on the day''s soccer games is going to hurt the ambiance of downtown. I wish everyone could see this area from the air, and see with it the vision of what it can be. City planners, the expensive, educated kind, across the county are recognizing the value of green spaces to a community. Green spaces that aren''t a 30- minute drive away but are instead truly a part of the community.
Families and friends enjoying the Riverwalk. Shoppers treating themselves to local goods at the Farmer''s Market. Young people learning the joy of sports. All in an area that is readily accessible and can bring Burns Bottom back to the family life it once supported.
The surprise here, if there is one, it that there is no real downside to the Burns Bottom site. The overall cost is reasonable, and the financially challenged city can contribute most of its portion in land and infrastructure it already owns, as well as in-kind services.
The increased activity in the area won''t create dangerous bottlenecks; there are multiple points of ingress and egress to the site. "Up the hill" as we used to say, there is property that is realistically attainable for residential development or quaint shops - or both.
It''s easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize, but we''ve had enough of that. You can argue forever about the details, dollars and cents and all the little nuances of what everyone likes or doesn''t like. But for once, let''s get behind a good decision and make it a reality. Cheerleaders, ballplayers and fans - welcome to Burns Bottom. It has missed the life that you will bring, and only good things will follow you there.
Beverly R. Broocks
Jim Phillips commented at 8/28/2009 2:14:00 PM:
It is exciting to hear that Columbus is planning to build a soccer complex. My son has been involved with soccer for 10 years now and still enjoys the game. My congratulations to those that voted for and supported this.