Until now, tennis players – including students and coaches – in the town of Sumrall have lacked a local home court where they can practice or practice the sport.
That’s about to change with the upcoming Phase II improvement plan for the Sumrall Sports Complex, which will bring more new pitches – along with an additional football pitch, more parking spaces and new facilities – to the site off Mississippi 42.
“We’re getting pretty close to the beginning (of Phase II), so we expect to see a pretty good degree of completion on the site plan,” said Mayor Joel Lofton. “We have been waiting for that site plan; it took a lot of research work and cleanup to get all that prepared and it has been going on for a while now.
“So we hope to have it, and hope to be able to move forward within the year so that we can provide these children and our communities with a high quality local facility to practice and play on.”
The first plans involve eight new tennis courts, though not carved in stone.
“There are some grant guidelines that we want to ensure we are eligible to receive some grant funds along the way, and they require you to have X number of courts,” Lofton said. “I think that number is eight, so our initial field will be so that we can remain eligible for additional funding in the future.”
Plans for Phase II began in 2021 for the site, which had seen extensive work in previous months. As part of that, city officials received $ 600,000 from the Mississippi House of Representatives, which was secured with the help of District 101 Representative Kent McCarty and District 41 Senator Joey Fillingane.
“I’m very excited that we’ll be able to get started (Phase II),” Lofton said. “It’s over, and this has been one of the projects that has been talked about for a long time. All government projects seem to be unbelievably slow, and there are so many factors beyond our control – permits to deal with wetlands that we have.
Because the Army Corps (of engineers) gets involved, they have to do an archaeological site study because of the public money being spent. So all these things are factors that make that even though we have the means at hand to carry out this project, then it is a “hurry up and wait” game. We are bound by the timeline of external public authorities to get their work done and allow us to move forward. ”
Previously, Fillingane helped secure funding for work on the sports complex under two initiatives: $ 500,000 through the BP Settlement Bill and $ 2 million from the Senate Bill 3065.
The $ 500,000 is part of $ 70 million spread across the country as part of a BP settlement. That bill – formally known as Senate Bill 2002 – was the result of Mississippi’s lawsuit against oil giant Deepwater Horizon in 2010, in which 210 million gallons of oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
Under Senate Bill 3065, Sumrall received $ 2 million for its recreational facilities, part of $ 207 million in government-issued bonds for several projects and educational institutions around the state.
Although several weather problems caused delays on Phase 1 of the Sumrall Sports Complex, officials were able to complete new driveway, a parking lot and stripes for the site. In early 2020, several amounts of dirt were installed on the football field to help with some long-term drainage problems.
But the dirt settled in the wrong way, partly because of the constant rain and partly because the work was done too fast. Since then, however, the entire surface of the playing field has been redone.