Article Comment 

Don't sacrifice quality of new soccer park




Bids for the proposed soccer park in Burns Bottom show that quality isn''t cheap. But as the county forges ahead with the project, we urge them to keep their focus on quality -- and to explore every available funding option, including tourism tax funds. 


The county had budgeted $2.9 million for the park, and this estimate was based on a straightforward soccer-fields-only concept. A plan that incorporates the natural setting of Burns Bottom into the design adds to the cost. Add to that walking trails, meeting places, irrigation, and a connection to the Riverwalk and the price increases further. The low bid offered on the project, $4.6 million, was over budget but not unexpected considering the park''s revised concept. 


We need to be responsible in our spending, and project planners are looking for ways to cut costs. But as officials move forward, they need to remember that the project, at Columbus'' front doorstep, deserves to be top-notch. We don''t need a Yugo parked in front of our beautiful downtown. We need a Cadillac. 


Lowndes County Supervisors President Harry Sanders, who has been a champion of the Burns Bottom location from the start, believes in the Cadillac approach but also believes the project can be rebid and hit the $2.9 million mark -- or at least close -- and the county can find additional funds. With cost savings elsewhere, that may be so. But we''re skeptical that will be the case, if the quality construction deserving of the project is pursued. 


Lowndes County has other options to make up the difference. It could float bonds, or borrow the money in another way. Since the sale of the hospital to Baptist, the county has wisely left the principal untouched, using only the interest it produces to fund projects. With interest rates at historic lows, we wouldn''t expect much from that source. 


Another idea being floated by some officials is having the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau contribute. The CVB could take out a loan against future tourism tax revenue. The CVB hasn''t been involved in the project. Soccer tournaments have the potential to draw thousands of people to the city. The park itself is an enhancement to quality of life, and would be a new venue for festivals and other events that would draw both locals and visitors. This fits in with the CVB''s mission nicely. 


The CVB has other projects in the works, including a new headquarters, the renovation to the Tennessee Williams Home, and a landscaping plan that will unify both buildings and create a small urban park. The CVB also agreed, reluctantly, to pick up a third of the cost of renovating the old Highway 82 bridge, also next to the Riverwalk, into a pedestrian parkway. 


The soccer park would be another enhancement to these projects. We urge the CVB to consider how it can get involved and look at ways to contribute tourism money. The organization lives on revenue generated by a 2-percent restaurant tax. Proceeds from that tax have grown steadily in recent years and with this new attraction we expect that trend to continue. 


Officials will have a better idea what to expect, and what the funding difference might be, after new bids for the project are opened in January. 


We hope officials look at every avenue to save money, but not at the expense of quality. Columbus and Lowndes County officials have a rare opportunity to build something truly unique and special downtown. We urge them explore every available funding option.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment milkthatcow commented at 12/12/2010 12:17:00 AM:

Why don't we leave the CVB out of it and take it out of the quarter-million that we pay Joe Higgins? Seems to me like a new Soccer Complex would be the kind of thing companies moving in would want to see. A growing community with happy people. Yeah, this sounds like something the Chamber of Commerce...ooops...the LINK should pay for. I mean really, the CVB already pays them too...


Article Comment kj commented at 12/12/2010 2:12:00 PM:

"The county had budgeted $2.9 million for the park, and this estimate was based on a straightforward soccer-fields-only concept."

Really, how come nobody thought to revise this when plans for the park ballooned into what was sold to the community? More importantly, how come nobody selling the plan to the community stopped to look at what was budgeted?


Article Comment milkthatcow commented at 12/12/2010 3:39:00 PM:

Seems like the Dispatch should be the next company that we let take over the economic affairs in Columbus. After all it was the Dispatch that helped vet the swamp as a good idea for a soccer park. If they want to spread the cost around to already stressed City services, it seems like they might feel the responsibility to pay for a considerable chunk of it too.


Article Comment walter commented at 12/13/2010 12:51:00 PM:

I agree whole-heartedly with the position stated in this editorial. It is very reasonable to have added cost when there are additions to the plan, after the initial submission. As stated, the key is constructing a high-quality facility that citizens and residents can be proud of, which, in turn, will encourage people to want to contribute to keeping it both clean and as safe as possible, for all, including visitors and tourists.

Residents and citizens of Columbus, Lowndes County, Mississippi, really are first-rate humans. The complex should reflect the character and progressive attitude of a people and an area of the state that is on the move!

It is my prayer that the complex will be a symbol of tolerance and a place where all peoples, regardless of age, gender, orientation, religion, class, size or political persuasion will feel welcomed and secure enough to be themselves. I pray further, that people from all walks of life will be afforded the opportunity to have input in the direction in which the complex will develop and have equal opportunity to benefit from it, financially, spiritually, and other wise.


Article Comment kj commented at 12/13/2010 1:20:00 PM:

I'm not against the complex at all, nor against the idea that it should be high-quality. I'd rather it be smaller in scope at the beginning and completed in stages if the money for the complete complex can't be found at the start.


Article Comment milkthatcow commented at 12/13/2010 1:55:00 PM:

You plan for additions that you know will fit your budget. This is either bad guesswork on behalf of those planning it or an attempt to force more BS down the throats of the community. Any moron could figure out that 'park=$' so logically 'park(addition)=(addition)$'. You don't get something for nothing. As the paper points out, we can quickly finger people to take responsibility for our bad planning. Let's build some soccer fields, we are committed it now anyways. Let's see what kind of money generating potential it has and use that (hopefully budgeted by someone else who can do math) to fund the additions. We don't need to park a Cadillac in front of the house if all we have is a Yugo budget. Has nobody watched the economic situation in the US for the past 4 years? That is what got America in to trouble in the first place. Honestly, I would feel alot better about a project of this scope with some hard #'s as to what kind of income generating ability it has and the knowledge that we weren't leveraging it happy thoughts and good intentions. Yes, I want it to be nice, but sensible is a whole lot more appealing in a state where unemployment is high, education is low and the poverty line isn't to far from the median income line.


Article Comment milkthatcow commented at 12/14/2010 10:09:00 AM:

for the person that keeps thumbs-downing the comments on here, please post why. I am really curious to hear how spreading the misery around and spending money we don't have is a good idea. Please comment.


Article Comment walter commented at 12/14/2010 11:30:00 AM:

Those who check thumbs-down, obviously, are challenged, as am I, when it comes to expressing themselves. Although challenged, I have not found it necessary to ever simply check "thumbs-down." To do so adds nothing, except to indicate that the person doing it is either illiterate or merely a signifying asshole, who wants to join in the discussion but lacks the skill or the confidence to join in the fray/conversation.

Planning, as I use it, means advancing as quickly or slowly as the "conditions on the ground" would dictate, if I may borrow an over-used catch phrase employed by those wishing to hide a foregone conclusion that they've already reached.

Perhaps we've become infected by the same disease that our national leaders suffered from over the past decade. We're presently engaged in two unfunded wars. We didn't have the money when they started them and we do not have it now. If we can start killing folks-theirs and our own- based upon a song and a prayer, surely we can began a project, such as the complex to celebrate life and forge unity and peace, based upon the same songs and prayers.

We live in a credit society. The conflict between opponents and proponents of the complex is that the former, more often than not, thinks it is fine and dandy to build prisons, make war and kill, with uncollected or anticipated revenue and the latter thinks that we should build better schools, bridges, rehabilitation centers and complexes, with reasonably anticipated, but not yet collected revenue.

We're spreading the misery around now. The problem is that the misery-index is much greater for one segment of the society than it is for another. The burden is greater for one class than it is another. The continuation of a huge tax-cut for the very top income-earners is a good idea, some think. Others think it is a lousy idea. Those who think that it is a good idea are convinced that the money that they keep will trickle-down. Objectors know from past experience that very little reaches those on the lowest rung.

Savings and Loans, Enron, Madoff, Wall Street bailout, trillions and trillions of dollars to make many people whole came from money we do not have. It was allocated because decision-makers "plan" to get it. What harm does it do for the leaders of Lowndes County and Columbus to "plan" to build a high-quality complex to help relieve stress upon the people, based upon money not yet collected? In the great scheme of things, whats a few millions, when the quality of life that the complex will help produce will be immeassureable for generations and generation to come, as long as it is constructed with high-quality and operated by individuals of high-standards and vision?

Build the complex. When and how each stage is constructed should be left to the expert. I'm not an expert, perhaps some of you are. In which case, I'll yield to your considered judgment. If you're not, then it would be wise to do as I do, insist that only men and women of integrity be involved in the planning and development of the complex, then provide the oversight that an informed and concern citizenry would automatically provide...


Article Comment walter commented at 12/14/2010 12:08:00 PM:

Milkthatcow, don't feel rained on. I get it all of the time. I don't know why they/he/she does it to you. They do it to me because I'm not a very good speller and I don't punctuate as well as they do. Sometimes I'm pressed for time and often time disrupted in the middle of writing and it shows in what I submit. Of course, thumbs-downers are all people with Ph.D's and they find my post offensive, primarily for those reasons.

OF COURSE, THEY AGREE A HUNDRED PERCENT WITH THE SUBSTANCE OF MY POST. Kidding aside, thumbs-down indicates that aat least someone has taken the time to read and think about what you've posted, whether they agree or disagree. I post for the record, not necessarily seeking agreement from others. I want posterity to KNOW that there are some who are conscious and aware and despite lacking sufficient capacity to alter the outcome that others have planned, what they planned for us wasn't achieved without some resistance, although meager.


Article Comment walter commented at 12/14/2010 12:26:00 PM:

As you can tell, I have the office to myself and time to write a bit. If planners can find a way to construct the complex with close proximate to an area that can be used or later developed for use as a quarter-horse race track, I promise to return home and attend every race. Of course, that is if you all don't mind one of your prodigal sons to return. I promise to be a credit to my home and to obey all just laws of the city, county, state and the nation.

I think a properly contructed and marketed race-track could attract entrants from throughout the state, as well as surrounding states. It doesn't have to be on the scales of a ChurchHill Downs, or anything, but it should be commercial enough to pay for itself and at the same time not offensive to the hypocrits thumping their bibles and commiting all kinds of sins, but frowning on those of you who finds gambling as just a recreational activity.

How about it Sanders, Mayor Smith, Brooks, Birney, Barbour, Ellis, Turner, Joseph and other businessmen and/or professionals: a quarter-horse race track within the Golden Triangle???


Article Comment melody commented at 12/15/2010 10:11:00 AM:

You just gotta "man up" boys and girls. When you make post for the world to see, there will be opposite views so you have to expect a dislike from those of different view points. Grow up , walter! I give you a thumbs down when you show your obvious bias and prejudice in most of your comments. I don't think you are a true racist but you impress me to be very prejudice and biased. I doubt you knowing the real meaning of "racist", look it up. So stop whinning about people disagreeing with your outlook on life and do some work on your inability to grasp the truth when it smacks you in the chops. Let the mind be in you that is in your Lord and always side on what is right in His eyes when you dive into political discussions. I'm sure you know what issues He is most saddened about in your life. You know He hates abortion , homosexuality and all the other issues the liberal dems preach in favor of so why are you making Him sad by supporting the politicians who don't care how He feels? Is He pleased with your hypocricy? You are either for Him or against Him. Just repeating what He said. Stand up for Jesus if you be a soldier of the cross!


Article Comment walter commented at 12/15/2010 4:10:00 PM:

I'm so grown, Melody, I would burst you apart. Whether or not you, or any other person, gives a thumbs up or down to anything I post here is totally irrelevant to me. Once I've posted, it is there for the world, or at least those within the world smart enough to read The Dispatch, to read and do with whatsoever they choose.

I'm not God and neither are you. What issues "He is most saddened about in your life." or mine is beyond my small-mind's capacity to comprehend or say. Of course, I'm not a theologian. Perhaps, you are.

From reading my Bible, I know that it is stated that He detests a hypocrit like you won't believe. You speak of "abortion, homosexuality" and some how, or the other, attributes a saddenness that you think God has to liberal democrats. I think, if I was so bold as to say what God thinks, I think that He would be even sadder about a people who deny basic assistance to children already actually born and living among us. Or, He is more sadden by a people or party who blocks unemployment checks to the layed-off mothers and fathers of the poor children who needs milk, lunch money and Christmas gifts, just to force the other party to extend a tax cut to the top 2% of the people of the country, who do not need it in order to buy basic necessities for themselves and their children.

I'm secure within my own being, including my sexuality. I am male and cannot have an abortion. However, because of my own security and ability to read and comprehend: Thou Shall Not Judge; Love Thine Neighbor; and, God Created All Life, I pray that God forgives me, if I've gone astray, and if He believes that others have gone astray, please forgive them. I've had tremendous religious teachers throughout my life and I have been blessed with the capacity to read and comprehend passages of the Bible for myself, as well. I'll put not only the teachings of my ministers up against those that taught you any day! Moreso than that, I would put the way they lived their lives up against the way your ministers lived their any day, too!

Suffice it to say, Melody, you lack the requisite mental capacity or the spirituality absolutely needed for you to even begin to question my system of belief. And, don't for a moment, try to shower me with rhetoric from some ignorant so-called minister that you barely understand yourself. Lady, I have the power, if you'll allow me to teach you, to show you where you've been and precisely where you'll be going, if you don't learn to read and think for yourself.

I'm as race-neutral a person as you've ever had the opportunity to communicate with, albeit thru the internet. And, you and all others who read here, can live a thousand years and never, ever come into contact with another as comfortable with the variation in races that God produced, as myself. Because I'm comfortable, with my own race, I am secure enough to accept critism and I am not fearful of criticizing others, if I'm convinced they're wrong or being overly racist. Point of information, before your post, Melody, can you point out or quote anything I said about race, in particular, in either of my earlier posts?

I repeat, Melody: I'm so grown, in every sense of the word, I'll burst you wide-open, figuratively and literally, you hear!


Article Comment milkthatcow commented at 12/15/2010 9:23:00 PM:

Please try and keep up. I asked people to come out and explain why they are disliking it. I feel that I probably do not need to 'man up' for this. I feel that I may actually be asking people to 'man up' and express their opinions. I might even be truly curious. I will of course let you decide. You and God. Please feel free to try to tell me about all of the things that GOD NEVER WROTE OR SAID. Please feel free to crack open Bible and prove me wrong. Please! I dare you. You cannot. It is not possible. Please quit believing everything you are told. Open you mind, use your brain and spend some time learning about the junk you are spewing. Now let's try to quit calling people hateful things like 'racist'. Lets try to learn to be the people we should be, not the people that we want to be.


Article Comment zenreaper commented at 12/15/2010 11:13:00 PM:

Okay, lets be honest, Columbus is a town of 30K people. Is there really a need for a 2.9 million dollar soccer "complex"? I mean why not a lacross field? Maybe a ping pong structure, or a curling stadium? We just do not NEED it. Interest in soccer around here is not at that level. I work at the base, where many people come from all over the world, and THEIR kids soccer program couldn't generate more than two teams for their league.

Oh, wait, if we have a "complex", we might get more people interested in it, right? Honestly, we can barely get 1000 people to a Friday night football game and people LIKE that sport, there is NO WAY there will be "thousands" of people coming into town for a soccer tourney.


Article Comment walter commented at 12/16/2010 4:23:00 PM:

Zenreaper, you might be right. So, what would be a reasonably complimentary way to use the complex, in addition to soccer? Columbus has around 40k people. How many are in Starkville, West Point, Tuscaloosa and Tupelo? Is there a use to which the complex could be put to draw upon the residents and citizens from those cities that you would like to bring to the attention of planners?


Article Comment zenreaper commented at 12/16/2010 5:51:00 PM:

Walter, I think you misunderstand. I am not suggesting that they use the complex for more than soccer, I am suggesting that they not build the complex at all.


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