News Column

DeSoto parks board lobs Eudora tennis proposal to supervisors

July 10, 2014

By Henry Bailey, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.

July 10--The commission also got an update this week on a long-awaited natural resources plan that holds promise for filling park and green-space gaps in the county's western, southeastern and central areas.

"It would be very beneficial," Supervisor Lee Caldwell of Nesbit said of the plans for the Eudora park, which already has a busy playground and ball field. "The park is highly utilized; on any evening you might see 200 people there, and so we're excited about this opportunity. It's a center of the community."

"It looks like we may have lots going on over on the west side again," said Peggy Linton, commission chairwoman, after hearing the Green Resources Management Plan update from David Baker of the Fisher Arnold engineering/design firm of Memphis and passage of a tennis court motion by Commissioner Wayne Spell.

Spell's recommendation is that district funds be earmarked for engineering services for a master plan for one tennis court, options for more courts and a pavilion with dressing areas and restroom facilities. The supervisors are expected to consider the proposal at their July 21 meeting.

Larry Jarrett, director of the county's parks and greenways system, said action was urgent on the court, estimated to cost $20,000 to $25,000: "We have carry-over funds that are available in our current budget. But the money may go away on Sept. 30 if we don't get it obligated by the supervisors," he said of the fiscal 2014 close.

The commissioners ruled out seeking a U.S. Tennis Association grant because two courts are the minimum and the amount available, $10,000, is insufficient for completion, and also due to USTA requirements for a continuing youth program that would hike operating costs.

"One tennis court is better than none," said Linton.

Commissioner Ray Laughter said that if a court goes through, "everyone will want to practice on it" and he urged the panel to be thinking of a use policy.

Baker's report was on a Green Resources inventory and plan that's tied to a larger Greenprint blueprint being developed by a tri-state consortium coordinated by the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Sustainability under a $2.6 millionHousing and Urban Development grant. A first draft of the final Greenprint plan is to be presented July 24 at a consortium session at 10 a.m. at Brown Missionary Baptist Church, 980 State Line Road in Southaven.

A Green Resources needs analysis, said Baker, shows that Southaven, Olive Branch, Horn Lake and Hernando have "good coverage" on parks, trails and green spaces, "but the southeast part of the county is lacking as well as a swath through the middle."

A sign of progress is the "connectivity" posed by donation by the Rasco family of acreage along Horn Lake Creek that ties to the city of Horn Lake's 600-acre eco-park area and then east to "health advocate" Baptist Memorial Hospital in Southaven and on to the Greenbrook and Snowden Grove parks, said Baker.

To the east in the Lewisburg area, Laughter pointed to hopeful prospects for developing as a park 40-plus acres donated to the county.

On the west, good signs include Scenic Byways designations, the North Mississippi Trails Association's partnership with the Corps of Engineers for bike trails at Arkabutla Lake and the Boy Scouts' major improvements underway at Camp Currier in the Eudora area.

"I've been on board with this since 2004" when regional greenway linkage was first discussed," said Linton. "I think we've come a long way."

The DeSoto supervisors and cities also are getting plan updates; formal release of the plan is expected this fall.

As to upcoming events, Jarrett said the Sept. 27 Eaglefest event at Arkabutla Lake for nonprofit, DeSoto-based Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation will benefit from a $3,500Mississippi Development Authority grant. Eaglefest, in its second year, seeks to raise funds for a nature education center.

"We're going to make a big push" for Eaglefest, said Jarrett, who planned to meet with Bonny Davis Groce of Hernando, rehab board member and fest organizer.


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Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

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