Roger Short: The time has come to act

June 17, 2009



As I sat in church this past Sunday morning, I found it difficult to concentrate on worship--sorry Brother Mickey-- because of so many thoughts I was having about the proposed soccer/footballplex. I found myself thinking of reasons to defend the many hours that have gone into the process that has led us to where we are now.  


The only defense I can give--the children of Columbus and Lowndes County. I thought of the due diligence that was taken in trying to select a site from the few choices that were submitted to the CLRA and the Ad Hoc Recreation Committee. The thoughts of the lack of those landowners, citizens and realtors who had the opportunity to submit properties for consideration yet did not and those that are so quick to pass judgment on the properties that are being considered. My thoughts drifted to the total lack of understanding of so many people about the soccer/footballplex. I thought of statements I had read that stated we now have nine fields at Cook and we''re building six measly soccer fields.  


Here are the facts: There are actually 13 fields at the Cook facility --1 football, 1 Under-12, 2 Under-10, 4 Under-8, 2 Under-6 and 3 Under-5 fields.  


The proposed six regulation sized fields would be subdivided to smaller fields when needed as follows: 1 football, 1 high school, 2 Under-12, 6 Under-10, 6 Under-8, 4 Under-6 and 4 Under-5 fields. This almost doubles the capacity of the Cook fields. The facility layout should handle our growth for the next 30 years.  


As Brother Mickey continued to preach about Matthew the tax collector, my mind continued to wander. Where have all the people who are so misinformed about the soccer/footballplex been for the last several years? The CLRA has had a comprehensive long-range plan in place for the last 5-plus years. The plan has been presented and advertised that it would be presented on more than several occasions.  


As well, it has been presented to civic groups and clubs every time they have requested information on the long range plan. And I must say, the news media has recently done a more than above average job on getting the correct long-range plan information out to the public.  


The plan has always been to first develop the soccer/footballplex, second, do an overall update of neighborhood parks and lastly undertake a complete reconfiguration of Propst Park. The soccer/footballplex includes soccer fields and a football field illuminated with the latest green energy-efficient custom lighting that fits lights onto the field and keeps the light out of neighbors'' windows. It also includes natural settings, picnic areas, playground facilities, open air pavilions and walking trails.  


I must add that should the soccer/footballplex''s final home become Burns Bottom, the idea or thought of moving the existing farmer''s market has never been considered. In fact, I have always felt that the soccer facilities and the farmers market would complement each other. Who wouldn''t want an instant audience of out-of-town customers to sell your goods to?  


The neighborhood parks phase includes updating some community centers, while replacing some older gyms with modern outdoor basketball type pavilions. The Propst Park phase of the plan includes a complete reconfiguration of the baseball and softball facilities to be designed into four field wheel configurations throughout the park. The CLRA has never wavered from this long-range plan. 


This is not a Harry-thing, a Robert-thing, a Birney-thing or a Steve-thing. This is about doing something for the future of our children, our children''s children and our children''s grandchildren.  


The time has come for us to come together and unite to improve the quality of life for all the good people of Columbus and Lowndes County. In everything I have read, I can''t remember one time reading that we don''t need the soccer/footballplex, just that we don''t need it at the Burns Bottom property or the Corps property. It''s a rare occasion that the CLRA gets to be on the side line cheering for both sides; we''re normally defending our decisions in some controversial issue.  


The CLRA stated in the Wednesday, June 10th joint meeting that we are in favor of either property and we stand on that conviction. To the naysayers, become informed about the project, and stop listening to those that would kill something good for our children. Get behind the city and county and help them to get this project completed. Don''t be a deterrent to the process because you don''t like the location. Wherever the soccer/footballplex is to be, JUST DO IT. 


Roger Short is the executive director of the Columbus Lowndes Recreation Authority.