October 20, 2012 8:20:17 PM
Jeff Clark - [email protected]
As complaints continue about the parking situation at the Columbus Soccer Complex, particularly along the north end of the facilities, city and county officials are researching ways to find a solution.
Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said he has been in talks with Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority Executive Director Roger Short and Columbus Mayor Robert Smith to brainstorm solutions.
"We have met and I think we are close to solving the parking problem," Sanders said at Monday's board meeting.
Sanders and the board unanimously voted to have a half-acre of property appraised on the north end of the complex for possible purchase. The appraisal request was made by Short.
"We are hoping to get about a half-acre lot on the north side," Short said. "It is the vacant lot behind Little Dooey's -- you can't miss it. We want to use this for additional parking."
According to Short, soccer registration numbers were good this year but he said he didn't have official attendance numbers.
"It's hard to tell what the spectator numbers are," Short said. "The registration numbers were good, but there is so much activity, especially on the north side where the smaller children play, that it's hard to tell who's a spectator."
Short said the county and city are also discussing opening another street in Burns Bottom to further reduce the traffic flow.
"We are discussing opening Coretta Street and making it a one-way street to help alleviate some of the congestion at the soccer complex," Short said.
Addressing the traffic problem is only the beginning, Sanders said. The lack of restrooms and concession stands are also being explored by Sanders, Short and Smith.
"We have looked at building a restroom and concession stands in the northwest corner," Sanders said. "If we can use the corner of the farmer's market, it will save us about $100,000 because it's above the flood plain. We have also talked about meeting with the Boy Scouts and using the scout hut. This is an ongoing problem and we will continue to work on it -- it's an on-going process. There is no way in the world we are going to leave it the way it is. It's just going to take time."
The $5 million-plus soccer complex opened Sept. 22. It is the first phase of a park in the wetlands of the Burns Bottom area that also includes plans to connect to the Riverwalk.