Meridian Parks Status

Mild conditions outside are attracting more people to Meridian parks. This week's spring break led to an increase in patrons. Park officials are optimistic that the increase will continue throughout the summer, despite budget constraints.

'We didn't get the big, big increase, but on the flip side we haven't had a huge decrease.'

Parks and Recreation director, Mark Naylor says although there's no extra money to add programs, there's enough to sustain. This means no programs will have to be cut, but some projects in the works will be delayed.

For example, Phil Hardin Park is 37-years-old. Park officials say it has served its purpose, but there's now a dire need for new baseball fields. For more than a year city officials have been examining ways to develop new fields. The problem is money.

"We've been looking at some land,' says Naylor. 'We've looked at three or four sites out on the interstate or at different places. We haven't really inked a deal on purchasing land and then trying to find out who's going to help us find it because it's one thing to buy the land and it's another to build a $6 million or $7 million complex."

There are also efforts underway to improve Meridian's soccer program. Last spring the city council approved the leasing of fifty additional acres from East Mississippi State Hospital behind the Jaycees Soccer Complex. Naylor estimates that it will take between $2 and $3 million to develop that area into four large soccer fields with an additional concession stand and parking lot.

'These kind of things and the baseball complex are going to have to be funded by a big special project like a bond issue, which we can't talk about because it's hard to pass a bond issue,' says Naylor. 'The talk all over the state is a food and beverage tax because with that everybody pays.'

Meanwhile, Naylor is hopeful that work on that proposed new baseball complex will start within the next two years.

Meridian's Park and Recreation Department has 9 baseball fields, 8 softball fields, 14 soccer fields, 18 tennis courts and 6 basketball courts.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Kay Location: Meridian on Mar 19, 2012 at 01:33 PM
    I have an idea....how about we use some of these empty lots/buildings ALL around meridian. Tear down some of these buildings that are NOT being used. They are a waste of space and make Meridian look deserted in places. Instead of clearing off more land, cutting down more trees... How about we USE or WASTED SPACE!!
  • by Wayne Location: Collinsville on Mar 17, 2012 at 08:47 PM
    Bonita? So, your solution is to tear up a beautiful rural park and build baseball and soccer fields there? Perhaps drain one of the lakes to make room? It is obvious you have never enjoyed any of the many activities Bonita Lakes has to offer. Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful public parks in Mississippi (and I've been to many of them).
  • by voter Location: meridian on Mar 16, 2012 at 09:54 PM
    Naylor must think all people need to be taxed to death. Call it a bond issue or food tax it is all the same, more taxes which means the working people have less money to spend on their families. When are the people going to get sick and tired of these people holding well paid public positions always wanting the tax payers to give up more money? I for one am tired of spending my hard earned money on any kind of taxes or fees or whatever else you want to call it. All of us do not have government jobs paid by the taxes off of the workers. Why tax food more it is already over taxed. If you want to spend money on games then raise the money on the people that play the games not everyone. If that is not enough them maybe Mr. Naylor could get a real job where he has to work for a living like others. I'm all for the youth having something to occupy their time and energy but more taxes is not the answer to everything. We cannot even protect the citizens in this town from crime but we want to spend more money on games? How about spending the money on more policemen to protect and patrol the city.
  • by citizen on Mar 16, 2012 at 05:49 PM
    No need to purchase land when you have 3000 acres of city owned land at Bonita
  • by Not Surprised Location: Lauderdale County on Mar 16, 2012 at 10:55 AM
    Any land purchased will be bought from cronies at a much higher price than the market value. That's the Meridian way!!!
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