With studies in hand, officials step closer to sportsplex choice

April 21, 2009

Neal Wagner -


The Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority has received environmental studies for the three proposed sportsplex sites, a key hurdle toward choosing a final location. 


With the studies in hand, recreation officials will be able to give a clearer picture of the pluses and minuses of each location to city and county leaders, who will make the final choice between the three sites. 


However, the contents of the studies won''t be made public for several weeks, CLRA Executive Director Roger Short said Monday afternoon. 


"The results for the wetland delineation studies are in now," Short said. "I haven''t gotten a chance to look at them in depth yet, so I wouldn''t be able to tell you if the results favor one property over another or not." The studies look at the impact of flooding and other issues. 


The properties studied are a 156-acre land tract near the Columbus Riverwalk; a 50-acre piece of land near the Highway 82 Macon-Meridian exit; and a 54-acre, partially publicly owned land parcel in the city''s Burns Bottom area that includes the Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market. 


Although Short is not revealing the findings of the studies, CLRA officials likely will review them during the agency''s May 4 board meeting at the CLRA Propst Park administration building. 


"Right now, we are shooting to have something to present to the board at our next meeting," Short said. "As far as right now, we are planning to sit down with (JBHM architect) Kevin Stafford as quickly as possible and draft some blueprints of what the parks would look like at each location, taking into consideration the environmental study results. 


"I can''t really release anything else right now, but that is our immediate plan for the next few weeks," Short added. "Like I said, we are shooting to have something to present to the public by our next meeting time." 


The studies were conducted by Tupelo-based Wildlife Services Inc. on the three land tracts selected last month by the CLRA to be potential sportsplex locations. 


After the CLRA meets May 4, recreation officials may present the study findings and sportsplex renderings to the Columbus City Council and the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors during each entity''s May meeting. 


The studies, conducted on the three pieces of land over the past five weeks, came with a $15,000 total price tag and were funded equally by the Columbus and Lowndes County governments. 


The three parcels were selected last month from a list of 11 pieces of land submitted to the CLRA to use for the sportsplex project, which will one day house the county''s soccer and football programs.