OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - At the Ocean Springs sportsplex, there is actually grass that needs to be cut and trimmed. Sprinklers make sure that grass stays lush and green. Ball fields are taking shape, and you can imagine children rounding the bases. Hundreds of energy saving lights stand out among the tall pines. It's almost time to play.
Bobby Dalgo serves on the city's parks advisory board. Two words come to mind as he looks at the progress.
"Very proud," Dalgo said. "As you said, it's been a long, long time. All the things we've gone through and to see what's going on right now, [I'm] very proud."
The 40 acre piece of land was purchased years ago and sat dormant until last year. The proposed complex was not without its critics. James Hagan is a city alderman. He has an answer for them now.
"At this point, and this many years later, I think they're probably going to realize they were wrong," Hagan said. "This is a wonderful project."
If all goes according to plan, footballs will be tossed, baseballs will be pitched and soccer balls will be kicked by the end of the year.
Geri Straight is the city's recreation director.
"Personally, I feel a sense of accomplishment, something that I've been part of that was very important and needed in this community," Straight said.
Looking into the future, the complex could bring in extra revenue for the city, but that's not a priority, according to Hagan.
"It could eventually be a moneymaker," Hagan said. "I think right now it's just a big plus for the community in that we get to have all of our athletic and outdoor stuff in one location. It will save time for parents like myself who have multiple children playing in different sports."
And when games do begin, the sounds of children having fun will be worth the decade long effort.
When it opens, the sportsplex will have five baseballs fields, four softballs fields, two football fields and four soccer fields. There will also be pavilions, concession stands and restrooms.
Funding for the complex comes from a two percent tax on food and beverages served at city restaurants.