Until now, tennis players – including students and coaches – in the town of Sumrall had no local court on which to play or practice the sport.
That’s about to change with the upcoming Phase II of the Sumrall Sports Complex Improvement Plan, which will bring several new pitches – as well as an additional football pitch, more parking and new facilities – to the offshore site. of Mississippi 42.
“We’re getting closer to the start (of Phase II), so we expect to see a pretty good degree of site plan completion,” Mayor Joel Lofton said. “We were waiting for this site plan; it took a good job of surveying and clearing to prepare all of this, and it’s been quite a while now.
“So we hope to have that and hope to be able to move forward into the year, so that we can provide these kids and our community with a high quality local facility to train and play.”
Initial plans call for eight new tennis courts, although this is not set in stone.
“There are certain grant guidelines, which we want to make sure we’re eligible to receive grant funds in the future, 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 funds in the future.”
Phase II plans began in 2021 for the site, which had seen extensive work in the previous months. As part of this, 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 happy that we can start (Phase II),” Lofton said. “It’s overdue, and it’s one of those projects that we’ve been talking about for a long time. All government projects seem to be incredibly slow, and there are so many factors out of our control – the permits to fix the wetland issues that we have.
Because the army corps (engineers) are involved, they have to do a survey of the archaeological site because of the government money that is used. So all of these things are factors that even though we have funds in hand to execute this project, it’s a game of ‘hurry up and wait’. We are bound by the schedule of outside government agencies to do their job and keep us moving forward.
Previously, Fillingane helped secure funding for work at the sports complex through two initiatives: $500,000 through the BP Regulation Bill and $2 million from Senate Bill 3065.
The $500,000 is part of $70 million being distributed statewide as part of a BP settlement. That bill — officially known as the 2002 Senate Bill — was the result of Mississippi’s lawsuit against the oil giant over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in which 210 million gallons of oil were dumped in the Gulf of Mexico.
Under Senate Bill 3065, Sumrall received $2 million for its recreational facilities, part of $207 million in state-issued bonds for several projects and educational institutions across the state .
Although several weather issues caused delays to Phase 1 of the Sumrall Sports Complex, officials were able to complete a new driveway, parking lot and strips for the site. In early 2020, several earth fillers were installed on the football pitch to address some long-standing drainage issues.
However, the dirt settled inappropriately, partly because of the constant rain and partly because the work was done too quickly. Since then, however, the entire surface of the playing field has been resurfaced.