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County considers recreation area, petting zoo

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Aug. 28, 2001
Lauderdale County supervisors are considering building a county-owned and operated recreational area and petting zoo next to proposed baseball fields at Lovers' Lane.
District 4 Supervisor Q.V. Sykes, who serves on a supervisors' recreation committee, said recreation equipment could be purchased with interest earned on money originally set aside to build the Northeast Park tennis courts and the Lovers' Lane baseball fields.
He said about $6,200 could be used to erect fencing and basketball goals; the money would also buy volleyball and badminton equipment, an amplifier and speakers. A pingpong table and posts for volleyball and badminton nets will be built in-house, he said.
One company estimated the fence could cost $4,981, but Sykes said other quotes for the work could be lower. The sporting equipment will cost $318 and the sound equipment will cost $894.
Sykes said people could use a log cabin already on the site for community activities. Sykes plans to stock a recently-built pond with fish and said some residents already have volunteered to donate animals for the petting zoo.
He said he hopes to have sporting equipment up by Monday, when a countywide community cook-out is scheduled for 2 in the afternoon.
Hitt concerned
District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt said he is concerned about how the park equipment will be managed.
Hitt said he is concerned that housing animals could mean additional costs for more workers because the animals would have to be maintained and fed. He said no supervisor has mentioned plans for a petting zoo.
He said he is not even sure the county can legally purchase the park equipment with interest earned on money set aside for baseball fields and tennis courts.
Heated history
The recreation area and its four buildings, including the log cabin, became the subject of heated discussions a few months ago when the Lauderdale County Humane Society requested the site for an animal shelter.
At the time, Sykes stressed the property was purchased for recreation but he did not release detailed plans for the site.
Humane Society organizer Cheryl Walton said she has driven by soccer fields and other ball fields, and "I don't see them being used enough to override using them as a solution to the animal control issue."
County Administrator Rex Hiatt said supervisors have not put the recreation plan issue to a vote.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.