Southaven parks improvement plan presented

Assured of having more funding for parks and recreation improvements over the next few years following the Legislature’s extension of the Penny for the Parks repealer, Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite Tuesday presented a new Parks Enhancement Program for the next four years. 

Estimating $14 million available for the projects the mayor would like to have done, Musselwhite presented to the Board of Aldermen nine items to be considered. 

They included neighborhood parks, the addition of eight tennis courts at the Snowden Grove Tennis Complex and the conversion of the four original tennis courts into pickleball courts. The proposal also has plans for splash parks at Snowden Grove and Greenbrook parks, dog parks at Snowden Grove and Central parks, parking lot expansion at the Southaven Arena, new roofs and Main/Quad D maintenance at Snowden Grove, LED lighting installation at Snowden Grove, and parking lot resurfacing at Snowden Grove and Greenbrook parks.  

Work on neighborhood parks would be targeted for the 2022 Fiscal Year. Adding tennis courts would be in Fiscal Year 2023, pickleball court conversion in Fiscal Year 2024, splash parks in 2025, and the other projects pegged for Fiscal Year 2026.  

In Musselwhite’s proposal, funds are currently available for neighborhood parks, tennis courts, pickleball court conversion, splash parks and dog parks. However, the estimated costs of the projects, with the exception of the neighborhood parks, all fall under the funds made available for each. Any unused revenue would move on to the other items on the list.  

Musselwhite told aldermen Tuesday the $14 million estimated revenues from the “Penny” tourism tax might be a bit conservative.  

“I think that $14 million is going to become about $15-15.5 million,” the mayor said. “This is what we viewed as the highest priorities. We do need to get going.”

Musselwhite also presented a long-term plan, or wish list as it were, for future enhancements beyond the 2026 repeal, if the tourism tax is extended again. 

On the list is renovation of the batting cages at BankPlus Sports Center, black vinyl fencing at Snowden Grove and Greenbrook, LED lighting at Greenbrook, an indoor tennis facility, an indoor multi-use facility geared for volleyball and basketball at Snowden Grove, new ball diamonds at Snowden Grove, an adult softball field conversion for four diamonds at Cherry Valley, and Musselwhite envisions at Performing Arts Center on Northwest Drive near City Hall.  

“I’d like to see a mini-Orpheum here in Southaven,” Musselwhite said. “We don’t have enough money for that now, but when funds become available we can move those items up.”  

There was also some discussion about including a city-owned track and field facility in the future plans for the city. 

No action was taken at Tuesday’s meeting but more consideration will come up when the Board of Aldermen meet next on June 7.  

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob provides content for DeSoto County News and occasionally is heard on the OB Pod podcast talking about area happenings. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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