Recreation Proposal Creates Concerns - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/13/04

Recreation Proposal Creates Concerns

A plan to convert a golf driving range into a mini sports complex is creating concern in Ocean Springs.

As WLOX News first reported, city leaders are considering buying 12 acres of land off Highway 90 that now includes the driving range and an RV park. The recreation director proposes using the site for soccer fields, tennis courts and a skate park.

But that plan faces serious questions about funding and what's best for the city.

"There's no way they can come up with a good issue to make it work," said city resident Doug Denehie.

Denehie says the plan involving the driving range property merely offers a "band aid" resolution to the city's recreation needs. He favors sticking with the original idea to build a large sportsplex on the city owned land near Highway 90 and 57.

"The biggest issue here is money. Money. We don't have a bottomless pit. We've got to come up with a way to make this work at the cheapest cost to the tax payer," he said.

The nearly 12 acre driving range site would likely cost between one and one and a half million dollars.

"One point two million for 12 acres is just a lot of money. We already own 120 acres. We're going to get to use at least 90 of it. We only paid 365 thousand dollars for it. It's ridiculous not to go for that. We're six months away. Six months away from a permit," Denehie explained.

Wetlands issues have long stalled the city's plans to build a sportsplex on the Highway 57 land. That lingering question about "when" that might happen is one of the reasons for considering the golf range proposal.

"Can basically just put soccer goals up out there, and we can be playing," said city recreation director, Damain McKay.

This isn't the first time Denehie has spoken out publicly about building the recreation complex on this city owned property near Highway 57. Three years ago he collected 12 hundred petition signatures urging city leaders to move forward with the development plans at the site.

"I think that will get us the most bang for our buck. It will place everything in one spot," said Denehie.

The board of aldermen will discuss the golf range site at Tuesday night's meeting.

Mayor Seren Ainsworth and alderman Jerry Dalgo told WLOX News that finances are a primary concern. The mayor wants to put together a cost comparison, outlining the specific funding needs for both recreation site proposals.

By Steve Phillips

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