Soccer Complex may get $200,000 upgrade

November 1, 2012 10:07:21 AM

Jeff Clark - [email protected]


The Columbus Soccer Complex, which celebrated its grand opening a month ago, may soon undergo a $200,000 upgrade in amenities. 


"Roger Short, (executive director of the Columbus Lowndes Recreation Authority), thinks we can build an additional restroom, concession stand and a coaches' lounge for about $200,000," Lowndes County District 1 Supervisor and board president Harry Sanders said. "The water is already stubbed out. We've been talking to the city and they seem on board to put up their $100,000. Roger will be here to discuss this with us on (Monday) November 5." 


Columbus Mayor Robert Smith mentioned the new plans during a meeting last week with the Columbus Rotary Club. Smith said he had met with a committee of Sanders, Ward 5 City Councilman Kabir Karriem, City Engineer Kevin Stafford and Short. The city is expected to discuss the issue at its Nov. 6 meeting. 


If the county and city agree to Short's request through majority votes, the additional restroom and concession stand would be closer to the south end of the park, providing facilities on both ends of the park. Stafford, of Neel-Schaffer Engineering, said the original park plans included the additional facilities but they were not completed due to lack of financing. 


District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith questioned Sanders and county administrator Ralph Billingsley on the allocation of the funding. 


"Have we identified where the $100,000 going to come from?" Smith asked.  


Billingsley told Smith the board would to have to amend the Fiscal Year 2013 budget to get the money from its reserves. 


With a clear plan for new restrooms on the drawing board, Sanders also vowed to address parking problems at the 70-acre recreational facility. 


The board took one step Monday toward alleviating the traffic congestion by purchasing a half-acre piece of property on the northeastern corner of the complex in Burns Bottom.  


"The owner offered to sell us the property for $5,000," Billingsley said. "We had the property appraised by Stewart Stafford and it appraised at $5,000. We feel that it's a good deal to get the property." 


Sanders said the property could accommodate about 30 cars. 


"We are also talking about clearing out under the brush on the northwest corner for additional parking," Sanders said. We are also looking at extending Coretta Street and making it a one-way street. Neel-Schaffer is looking at it, and they are discussing putting in small culverts instead of a bridge and making it a spillway street. This would make another entrance and exit for the complex. Right now, there is only one way in and one way out." 


Sanders said he hopes the work on the complex will be completed this winter.