One Lauderdale County supervisor is responding to critics of a plan which calls for a sportsplex to be built in Meridian's oldest park. There's currently a proposal to build the almost four million dollar facility at Highland Park. The indoor sportsplex would be used for: basketball, soccer, volleyball and more. District Four Supervisor Joe Norwood views the proposal as a way to help renew the area around the park.
"Highland Park will never be what it was, but it can be better and that's what we're trying to do right now."
Norwood says that's the bottom line. In his view, building the $3.8 million indoor sportsplex at Highland Park is a win-win situation.
'What we're trying to do is work with the city to attract basketball tournaments, soccer tournaments and all of those things. That's just one area where the city can go out through State Games and through the tourism department to attract tournaments and things like that here.'
According to preliminary figures, Norwood says that over time the sportsplex could generate millions of dollars in additional revenue for the area.
'There was a tournament over in Jackson with over 100 teams registered at $300 a team, and that was just one weekend and these things happen throughout the southeast. There's a lot of basketball being played between Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Mobile and everybody really comes through here going to some place like Jackson, and this could kind of easily be a halfway point where you could combine tournament play for basketball, volleyball, soccer and all of that.'
In terms of the proposed site for the sportsplex at Highland Park, Supervisor Norwood says the addition of the facility will only help.
'My analogy is that whenever you turn the lights on the roaches always crawl. So, once we bring some life back into that park, we'll be able to eliminate a lot of that crime element out of the park and we'll make it a haven for kids, as well as adults.'
Efforts are also being made to build two outdoor sportsplexes in the county. One would be located in Collinsville, and the other in district five. The proposal is to build all three of the sportsplex projects with county bonds that have less than a two percent interest rate. Supervisors are expected to vote on the proposals next month.