We should use what we own

Published 11:00 am Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Fisher Ferry site of a once proposed recreation facility is getting a visit from the man now championing the area for a sports complex.
Mayor George Flaggs Jr. will visit the city’s property Monday, something he has not done since being elected mayor.
“I have never been on the site,” he said, adding North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield and City Attorney Nancy Thomas will accompany him on the tour.
Fisher Ferry’s consideration as a possible site for a recreation complex resurfaced as the ad hoc recreation committee appointed by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in May continues its push for a recreation complex.
Monday morning the board approved a contract with Stantec Consultants to determine the feasibility and cost of building an access road either to U.S. 61 South or Dana Road. The study will be used to help determine whether Fisher Ferry can be considered as a site for a recreational complex.
The committee, which was appointed to examine the condition of the city’s recreation programs and facilities, began considering a recreation complex at its first meeting and has since circulated petitions and established a website and Facebook page promoting a complex. The committee has not discussed possible sites for a complex, and is expected to present its report by the end of December.
The city bought the 200-acre Fisher Ferry property in 2003 for $325,000. It acquired a wetlands permit in 2009 when it began developing the site just north of St. Michael Catholic Church as a sports complex. It abandoned the project later that year after spending $2.7 million on dirt work. In 2012, the city spent an additional $85,000 to remove the concrete in the drainage chutes and replace it with riprap and grout under a mandate from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
With the deed in hand and nearly $3.1 million spent to date, it only makes sense for the city to build a sports complex on the site. To acquire a property of similar size and prep the land as a recreation site would be an expensive process.
The mayor is doing the right thing by looking out for taxpayers’ money and using what the city already owns.
The site was listed for sale earlier this year and received no interest. It’s likely that if the city found a different location for a sport complex the Fisher Ferry site would sit vacant for many years to come.
The problem cited in the past as reason for abandoning the project was the access road being in a flood plain. By relocating the access road the problem is solved. If only things were that easy in politics.

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