Meridian Star

January 23, 2013

County ball field project progressing

By Terri Ferguson Smith /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     County officials took action on Tuesday to bring the efforts of parents and volunteers to fruition. At a Board of Supervisors meeting, a motion passed unanimously to advertise for bids on the first phase of the project.

    Josh Todd, District Three Supervisor, said the West Lauderdale Youth Association currently has fields in four locations — in Center Hill, in Suqualena, Collinsville, and one at West Lauderdale School. Age and gender divide players and so parents who have more than one child playing may have to miss  games while their children play at different fields.

    "The fields are so spread out," Todd said. "Also, some of them were built in the 50s and 60s and they are deteriorating."

    Todd said it isn't cost effective to keep putting money into the old fields. The Youth Association held fundraisers for several years to buy 31 acres on Gibson Road.

    "They have bought and sold more chicken plates and barbecue plates than any parent or grandparent should probably ever have to eat or sell," Todd said. "The community has gotten involved, the kids have gotten involved and they've done what we should ask of everybody. They've put their own money into this."

    After paying for the land, WLYA gave the land to the county, which will now begin the first steps of developing it into a two-clover complex, which is eight fields.

    "Now we're ready for phase one, which is probably the first of three phases," Todd said.

    Phase one will entail leveling the land, which is hilly now, and installing culverts, he said, and the Board of Supervisors has decided to contract that work out. A motion to advertise for bids on the project passed unanimously Monday. Todd said the county has budgeted money for the project.

    The fields will be used for children as young as 4 in t-ball, for boys up to age 12 and for girls up to age 14. About 600 youth played in the WLYA last year, Todd said.

    There will be different field lengths for boys and girls and there will be a field for church leagues. The complex will also be used for soccer games, he said.

    Todd said he would also eventually like to see a walking track, picnic pavilions and playground equipment.

    "I want this to be a place that the whole community can use," Todd said. "This is something that the county can take pride in."

    Todd said he has been questioned about who will provide the maintenance for the fields.

    "This youth association is taking care of four fields," he said. "Whenever you combine that to one field, they already have the manpower to do it, the means are already there to do it. They already have this set aside in their budget to take care of it."

    Todd hopes the new fields will last 40 or 50 years.

    "It's time for the kids to have something that they can be proud of," he said.