Crossett’s mayor said this week she is working to make the local sports complex more accessible to residents and more appealing for organizations who host tournaments.
Mayor Crystal Marshall said she has had several meetings with members of the Parks and Recreation Commission and the director of Parks and Recreation regarding the Scott McCormick Sports Complex. She said she hopes that citizens will soon see more activity out there.
“The overall theme of all of it is that we want the complex to be used more,” Marshall said. “Not just for people who are involved in tournaments, but we want ease of use for all, even for the moms who just want to take their daughters out and throw a ball around — or anyone who wants to use it — because that sports complex belongs to the people.”
Marshall said the complex will no longer be locked or closed off from the public and instead will be open daily for use.
“We also changed the way the fields are accessed because previously they were very locked down,” Marshall said.
The fields will no longer be locked and the walking gates to go into the fields will be locked and unlocked on the same schedule as the driving gates.
“So if you can drive in there, you can walk in there and play ball,” Marshall said.
The complex will, however, allow scheduling for those who wish to reserve a whole field such as for ball practice.
Marshall said to be guaranteed a field, a person would need to contact Parks and Recreation Director Larry Cantley to be put on the reservation schedule. Using the fields for practice is free, but Parks and Recreation wants to make sure that there are no scheduling conflicts with teams practicing.
Councilman Dale Martinie suggested that a practice schedule or reservation times be posted online so that people could access the schedule. Martinie said there also needs to be a way to show the field’s status so that if someone showed up and field was empty and they started playing, they weren’t forced to leave when the scheduled team showed up.
“You’ve got kids and you’re headed to the field to throw a ball around, and you want to know what’s available,” Martinie said.
Marshall said she would like to get signs up on each field to let people know how to reserve a field and also to give notice of what time the fields are booked so that someone just stopping by to throw a ball around will know what time the field is reserved for a team’s practice.
Martinie also suggested moving the schedule online as well as posting it on the field. Marshall said that could be something the administration works toward once they get a plan in place on the best way to ensure that everyone has access to the fields and also that there are no scheduling conflicts for practice.
Martinie said he really appreciated the efforts of those involved with making all of these changes and he was excited to see the complex become more accessible.
“I’ve heard more positive comments in the last few weeks and I think you guys have really done a good job making these improvements,” Martinie said.
Marshall said other changes were being made as well because the goal is to make the area more appealing to tournament directors.
“Our pricing system for tournaments was complicated and that was maybe what was deterring a lot of tournaments,” Marshall said.
The recreation commission met and discussed this issue after talking with tournament directors and other municipalities, and Marshall said they voted to change the rates.
“What I thought was really neat was they did two rates, they did a rate for locals,” Marshall said. Those who have a 71635 zip code will pay $105 per field to rent for tournaments and those with an out-of-town zip code will pay $125.
The city already has one person who is in the process of booking the field for a tournament, Marshall said. The mayor said she is working with Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Sarah Hollimon Stagg to do things to make tournament directors more likely to want to use the Crossett facilities.
“We all know that some places have more flashy things to offer than we do, but I talked to Sarah about it and I think we can come up with some creative ways to make Crossett really stick in their head and make them want to host tournaments here and come back here,” Marshall said.
Some audience members spoke about the complex and how they felt there needed to be a bicycle route to the complex for children who didn’t have parents available to drive them out there.
Resident Bob Rush said that he rode his bicycle to the complex one day and hopes that no children would attempt it.
“It was like a ride at Disney World, it was very unpredictable and scary,” Rush said.
He also suggested that a walking trail be considered for the area and that the city look into grant funding to get not only a walking trail but possibly some outdoor exercise equipment for the area as well.
In other news:
-The city has submitted an application to receive more than $200,000 in CARES ACT funding. Marshall said she feels confident that the city will receive all of the money requested.
-The pavilion near the Lucas Pond boat ramp that was damaged during Hurricane Laura has been torn down. The council made the unanimous decision to demolish it for safety reasons.
-Councilwoman Kirsten Mondragon was selected to be the ex officio council member to represent the council at Parks and Recreation Commission meetings.
-Dena Judge was appointed to the auditorium board to replace a member who recently resigned.