Our view: Is Hazel in charge of the Columbus Soccer Complex?

October 5, 2012 10:27:21 AM



In the movie version of John Steinbeck's "Cannery Row," the central characters of the story -- a motley group of malingerers, derelicts and misfits -- are confronted with a problem. 


For a long while, the group puzzles over a solution until Hazel -- an especially dim-witted member of the group -- suddenly stumbles upon an inspired thought, his face brightening with the epiphany. 


"I know!" he shouts joyfully. "We can give up!" 


There is no indication that there is anyone associated with the Columbus Soccer Complex actually named Hazel. But two weeks after the opening of the facility, there appears to be a lot of "Hazel" in this operation. 


When the complex had its opening ceremonies Sept. 22, patrons complained of inadequate restroom facilities and insufficient parking. 


Officials said the unique circumstances of the opening-day event -- thousands of players, parents and spectators were on hand -- exaggerated the problems of parking and restrooms. Officials said there wasn't enough money to add additional restroom facilities. They said portable restroom facilities would be brought in when big tournaments were scheduled for the complex. 


Parking? The official word was that there was some green space on the property that could be used for parking. 


But, mainly, they said the crush of opening day made the situation appear more serious than it actually was. 


Admittedly, the parking around the fields near the Farmer's Market is not too bad. The back fields -- behind Little Dooey -- continue to have overly-congested parking. There have been reports of frustrated patrons simply parking in the street.  


If we are honestly aspiring to host a series of large tournaments, to make the complex a tourist draw, we must address this situation. Parking on top of the brand new landscaping - much less in the middle of the road - is not a solution. 


Call Columbus Mayor Robert Smith, Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders or Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority Executive Director Roger Short. 


As an icebreaker, you might ask them how it is that there are more toilets in their homes than there are at the soccer complex. 


You might also ask them if their middle names are Hazel.