Plans to create a separate county parks and recreation department kicked off last week with the Yazoo County Board of Supervisors looking to purchase land in the Benton area for a future complex.
During its meeting last Friday, the county board expressed interest in purchasing 77 acres near the former Benton High School for about $385,000 to construct its own sports complex. County leaders said they intend to use the funds they normally contribute to the Yazoo City Parks and Recreation Commission to purchase the land.
Yazoo County currently contributes about $91,000 annually to the city parks and recreation department. But Supervisor Cobie Collins said, despite the county’s contribution, they do not have a voice when it comes to the direction of the city’s parks and recreation’s programs.
“We don’t have input as to what goes on…” Collins said.
“You don’t have to explain it,” said Supervisor Willie Wright. “We know what happens.”
“We put a lot of money in, and they don’t hear anything,” Collins continued. “They make decisions, and we don’t know anything about it. We are being used.”
The relationship between the city and county boards has been rocky over the last few years when it comes to the operations of the parks and recreation commission. The county board has tossed around the idea of creating its own parks and recreation department for quite some time. Last week marks the first time the possibility of purchasing land was brought to the table.
“We put $91,000 into parks and recreation,” Collins said. “We can take that money to pay for the land, and we just pull out. “
Supervisor Lee Moore questioned whether the county wanted to pull out all together from the city’s department.
“Yes, if we are going to build this complex we are talking about,” Collins replied. “That is how we are going to get this land, and it won’t cost us anything.”
Wright said he is in favor of the county creating its own program. But he suggested waiting to pull the county’s funding until the land purchase and other plans are put into place.
“It might take us a year to get everything ready,” Wright said. “We have to do a lot of work, bringing people into build it. It’s going to take a while. We should have to stay in until we get everything straightened out. We don’t want to put the kids in a position. Let’s get the land first. We might be looking at two years down the road.”
The county board said the land purchase would be approved pending a contract brought to the board from the seller. The board also said it would decrease its contribution to the city parks and recreation department to match what the Board of Mayor and Aldermen contribute to the program.
“But we do need our own parks,” Wright said. “And we can hire a company to manage like Vicksburg does. They hire a company to take care of bringing in tournaments and other activities.”