New sports complex underway in Ocean Springs

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - By Doug Walker – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - After a very long wait, a new sports complex for Ocean Springs is coming out of the ground. Workers spent Monday morning unloading thousands of dollars of new state of the art lights.

Next came the poles that will be put in place over a dozen ball fields. Water and irrigation pipes are also being moved into place.

In the distance, the towering lights rise from the ground like a forest of metal trees.  After ten long years, work has finally begun in earnest on the Ocean Springs sports complex.

"A lot of relief it has been to see everything finally coming together out here," said Geri Straight, the city's parks director.

But all the progress did not come easily.  Much of the half million dollar property was designated as wetlands.  And that created a major stumbling block.

"It took about two years of negotiations with the corp of engineers, fish and wildlife, seven federal and state agencies, and it was just going around the table and making compromises," Mayor Connie Moran said. "So instead of developing the entire 120 acres, we settled on developing 40 of the acres, and conveying the remainder to the land trust."

When the complex is finished, Straight said it will be a one stop shop for recreation.

"All baseball facilities will be out here and all of the softball fields. So at the same time that a parent may have a child that's playing little league baseball and girls softball, they'll be able to be at one location finally, and also the soccer and football fields."

The mayor said the complex might even improve the city's economy.

"We want families to come here. And when they come, we're going to invite them to come into our town and dine in our restaurants and stay in our hotels. So we see this, absolutely, as an economic development catalyst," Moran said.

In addition to the ball fields, the complex will also feature picnic pavilions, concession stands, and restroom facilities. It's scheduled to open in June 2011. The total cost of the complex is just under $7 million.  It's located off Highway 57 on the eastern edge of the city.

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