Our opinion: Soccer park project off to a good start

March 17, 2011 8:58:00 AM



The ball''s in play. The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to borrow an additional $1 million to cover costs for the new soccer complex and park at Burns Bottom, allowing work to get under way soon on the ambitious, $4 million project. 


In-kind work by the city has already begun. Burns Bottom was literally that a few weeks ago as the Columbus Fire Department conducted controlled burns of dilapidated houses in the way of the park, giving firefighters a little training time and clearing the land in the balance. 


The sprawling complex will be one of a kind in the area, including two professional-sized soccer fields with stadium seating. 


The vision for the complex includes more than soccer fields. Boardwalks and sidewalks will wind their way through Burns Bottom''s wooded areas. Future enhancements include a tie-in to the Riverwalk, pavilions, and a waterfall feature on Moore''s Creek, which cuts through the park. 


While the cost of the park came in at more than originally expected, and some of these enhancements won''t be included in the project''s first phase, we''re off to a good start. We have urged officials to look at every avenue to save money, but not at the expense of quality -- this is a unique project at the city''s front door, and one that will be enjoyed for generations to come. We need a Cadillac parked in our front driveway, not a Yugo. 


The supervisors and the City Council have funded some, but not all, of the park. Included are restrooms, but not the waterfall, pavilions and other amenities. In-kind services from Columbus Light and Water include steel light poles (not the original concrete) and less expensive wiring. 


We''re pleased with the cooperation between the city, county and Light and Water to find ways to save while keeping the park''s vision and quality intact. 


We do hope that as the economy improves, the project''s full potential can be realized. 


Quality isn''t cheap, but that''s what this park deserves. We thank supervisors and the city council for bringing this oft-stalled project this far. We hope they continue to keep their sights on this opportunity to build something truly unique and special downtown.