Former mayors call for city and county to work together to improve parks

By JASON PATTERSON,

Former Yazoo City mayors Wardell Leach and McArthur Straughter are calling for residents to demand that the city and county work together on Parks & Recreation.

The two former city leaders said they are speaking out because the youth baseball and softball seasons will start soon, and they are concerned that the programs will not be adequately supported.

“It’s time to put aside the small differences and start improving our community,” Leach said. “Take a look at the proposed schedules and the number of teams that will be participating in the spring and summer. The park commission is going to have a hard time keeping up if we don’t step up.”

Leach said the city and county have a long history of working together on Parks & Recreation until recent years. Yazoo’s program was established by the state as an interlocal agreement between the city and county. A Parks & Recreation board was established with the city and county each appointing five members and the city and county school districts each appointing a member to the 12-member board.

“The recreation board is supposed to run the recreation program, not the aldermen or the supervisors,” Leach said.

Leach said the agreement states that the city should put in four mils and the county should contribute two mils.

“The county mils are worth $80,000 more than the city’s,” Leach said. “In 1990 the combined funds totaled approximately $360,000.”

Leach and Straughter said that unlike today, the process that ultimately led to the construction of the recreational complex involved cooperation between city and county government.

In 1996 the two entities agreed to swap properties. The city gave the county the former city jail on Washington Street to be used by the county as a juvenile detention center. The county gave the city the property to build the complex. No money was exchanged.

Straughter added that the city workers also tore down the old county jail, and the city was given the property to erect a fire station next to City Hall. Both entities agreed to open the landfill together.

“There are plenty of examples of the city and county working together,” Straughter said. “The city and county shared equipment for pavement and patching, and the city and county engineers worked together.”

Leach said these kind of working relationships need to be restored.

“The security at the parks would be much better if the sheriff and the police chief are working together,” Leach said. “We need to see this happening. The city workers must put the best cleanup areas in all communities. Don’t leave any of us behind. The county crews can lend a hand in this effort.”

Leach said there is no reason why city and county leaders cannot have productive discussions about these issues.

“Our mayor and the president of our Board of Supervisors only live a block apart,” he said. “They need to get together and talk about progress for our community. If they do that, we will all be winners. If they do not, we will all be losers – especially our children.”