/Clarksdale sports complex Does it serve the community

Clarksdale sports complex Does it serve the community

An urban renewal agency, whose members were selected by the city, will oversee the project, the Corey L. Moore Sports and Recreational Complex. The project’s backers include Dwan Brown and Mayor Chuck Espy. They believe it will be a win-win deal that will bring in much-needed revenue to the city and not cost the local taxpayers anything. Brown stated that the key component of the project is having a national law company, a national real-estate development firm, national construction firm and national management company. A national bond underwriter and a bonds buyer will also be needed. The most important thing about this project is that it is complex. It is impossible to understand this project in a 10 minute presentation or newspaper article. Ray Sykes, a long-time Clarksdale resident, said that many parks in the area are in dire need of maintenance and that nothing is being done to address it. “We have abandoned these parks. We are now wondering: While we can’t manage our own parks, we will be able maintain other parks. Brown said that each community can walk to the parks but cannot walk down the highway (to the proposed site of the complex). Brown emphasized the youth sports tournament as a highlight, and “tour-generator.” Is there similar work in other parts of the state? Brown gave two examples: Grand Paradise Water Park, Collins, which was estimated to have cost $5 million, and Pep’s Point Water Park, Hattiesburg. Brown stated that there are many other failed water park projects. “We’ve tried to keep admission costs low to allow locals to use it… so people can enjoy very affordable vacations.” Brown stated that a feasibility study had been done for the project. One of the developers of the hotel, the 20-room Travelers Hotel, will open in Clarksdale’s downtown area in the early part 2019. Chuck Rutledge mentioned that Clarksdale Revitalization, Inc. conducted their market study, which cost a little more than $7,000. Rutledge stated that the study showed what the market was like and how much occupancy and room rates we could expect. “So we based our project and financing on this,” Rutledge explained. “We did tax credits so we were able tax credit equity through federal and state historical tax credits sales.” Residents asked where they could find the feasibility study for the center’s sports complex. The feasibility study was a standout. Even if you have the most elaborate plan in the world, it is still not clear to us. Sykes stated that this plan is so vague that no one understands it. Although we could build it, the feasibility study should prove whether it is feasible to maintain it. … The city’s infrastructure is steadily falling. A tax increase would be acceptable to repair a city sewage line. A tax increase would be acceptable to examine our water supply and determine if it is safe for drinking. However, I am concerned about investing in something we don’t understand.” Carla Kyle, a Clarksdale native, said that Tunica, Mississippi’s poorest town, was able to prosper with the help from its casinos. But, they are now realizing that the majority of that prosperity is not sustainable. “This complex is not going to help 20 years from now. You can be sure. Kyle stated that this is the problem. “(Tunica), in a few years, will probably be back at the poverty line. And I don’t want that to happen to Clarksdale.” Backers of the complex see sports tournaments as the key to development. Quavantae McGregory is a Clarksdale native who played for Mississippi Valley State University’s baseball team. She said that there’s a demand for youth tournaments in the Delta. “The complex will provide a new place for youth to play sports in the long-term. He said that the majority of Clarksdale’s youth sports leagues are currently moved around because there isn’t a central location for them. “Secondly, it will offer more job opportunities for the area in sports and recreation,” he said. “I was excited when I first heard about it. Jamarlon Fair, a Friars Point native and business owner, said that there would be jobs. You’re going to attract people to the city, and also increase revenue for the municipality. It’s easy to see how many tourists will visit the city and discover the treasures that Coahoma County has to offer. This is why Brown stated that their goal is not to win 100% acceptance from everyone. “At the end, we’re referring to politics, something that’s done under a particular administration. “I think that the overwhelming response from people elected Espy was because they believed he would bring about changes, and that he would have a new set of ideas and take a different path than the past,” he said. Brown stated that he has received positive feedback about this project through text messages, calls and emails. Brown said that despite his recollections, nothing has been done to propel Clarksdale forward. He is helping the mayor with his vision of what Clarksdale can be. Brown stated that “we know that over the past thirty years, we can go back further than that, there have been no substantial efforts to stop Clarksdale’s declining population, to increase its tax base, to eradicate poverty, or to improve the quality of life for citizens. We know that this doesn’t work.” “This is an opportunity to use proven methods and systems and best practices, qualified people to deliver hope to a small town that’s been neglected.” Kyle states that for a project this large to succeed, it will take a strong community to work together. Kyle stated that the town must come together. He also said that the community should meet with voters to reach a consensus and allow everyone to be involved as it affects everyone. “I believe it takes everyone, and I just think that there’s better way.” Derrell Washington of the Coahoma County Supervisors said that “If it does what they promise and creates the jobs they claim, then it’s a great idea both for Clarksdale and Coahoma County.” Part III is available. You can read Part I here and Part II here.