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Partnerships can save recreation

We, at times, have been critical of Warren County’s management of parks and recreation in the county, with much of that focused on the golf course.

When it comes to county operations, we have said, their work should be focused on the basic services our community, such as roads and other infrastructure, as well as support of the county’s Sheriff’s Office.

This week, the Warren County Board of Supervisors might have fallen into a solution for one of their sports complexes, and might serve as a blueprint for others.

During Tuesday’s work session, the Vicksburg Warren Athletic Association, the group that manages youth baseball in the county, asked the county to lease the Culkin fields.

In exchange for this agreement, VWAA would renovate and maintain the fields, fencing and netting, install access gates to the park and repair and maintain some of the utilities serving the park, particularly the lights.

The county would still be asked to maintain the grounds around the fields and on the rights of way, and be responsible for paying the utilities.

While the fields will not initially be used for games, they will provide the VWAA, Vicksburg Girls Softball Association and other youth organizations a facility to use for practices.

During the meeting, many of the supervisors showed their support for such an idea, even going as far as asking the board attorney to draft up a lease agreement. Still others felt ceding control of a county facility was a bad precedent to set.

Warren County cannot afford to invest in their recreation facilities like they need to. They know this and admit it readily.

Instead, the county should jump in with both feet and agree to this partnership. It’s a win-win.

Youth baseball and softball teams will gain more fields to practice on, a near decrepit facility will get new life and the county will be off the hook for much of the maintenance and upkeep.

Private-public partnerships like this one could be a blueprint for other facilities and way for the county to invest in recreation without having to invest dollars it does not have.