Tempers flare at Columbus City Council Work Session

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – City and county governments usually hold work sessions to work out issues and develop consensus before a regular meeting.

Sometimes, however, they expose bigger gaps among members.

Temperatures were hot and so were tempers at a work session for the Columbus City Council, as issues that have been simmering for weeks came close to boiling over.

Things were a little less than friendly among leaders in the “Friendly City”.

A City Council work session in Columbus covered prices of landscaping bids, whether or not to outsource some mowing chores, and a budget to update Propst Park.

Things heated up over a proposal from Columbus Parks and Recreation Director Greg Lewis that would require the city of Columbus to take out a $4 million loan for updates at Propst Park.

Councilman Joseph W. Mickens is in favor of the proposed upgrades, which he believes will make athletes coming out of the city’s baseball league more competitive with their out-of-town opponents.

“When that baseball hit that turf field, when they go up to Tupelo, wherever they go when they get that short-stop, that second base when they get ready to hit that ball, that ball is taking off fast,” said Mickens. “But when you practice on that dirt field, it slows it down. So that makes their reaction slower.”

Councilman Rusty Greene thinks the council needs to take a look at the bigger park’s picture.

“I don’t think it’s worth a million dollars so that 50 kids can practice how to field a ball off of turf,” said Greene.

Greene said some of the proposed updates are less for the children of Columbus and more for show.

“This ain’t about over kids playing on a nice field,” Greene said. “What happened to taking care of our kids? We’re doing all this catering so all these travel teams can get ready to go and travel. How ’bout just catering to the kids that live and play in Columbus, Mississippi? We’ve got a nice park for you, come play some baseball.”

The final words from Lewis concluded the regular work session.

“Our children deserve the best and as a quality of life feature, I think we should turf those fields. Our citizens, our children deserve the very best,” said Lewis.

None of the issues were voted on in today’s work session.

But expect them to come up again at Tuesday night’s regular City Council meeting.

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