By Mike Robertson
Winston County Journal
A major renovation and expansion is on tap for Ivy Park, adjacent to the Louisville Coliseum. Plans are in place and the City has advertised for bids which will result in the construction of four new youth baseball fields, a state-of-the-art playground with splash-pad, and an activity center.
The new baseball fields will be constructed behind and to the north of the former Assembly of God church building on Ivy Avenue which was purchased by the City, along with the surrounding property. The activity center is a long-term project and will eventually be located in the church building, with a parking area on the south side and the new playground located behind the building. There are currently no plans for work on the tennis courts as they are still in pretty good condition.
The current location of the playground will be used for coliseum parking. According to Parks & Recreation Director Todd McCullough, the coliseum currently has trouble booking large-scale horse shows and rodeos due to the lack of parking. The added parking will be a major benefit and should help attract more and larger events to the venue.
McCullough pointed out that in the past Louisville was a go-to destination for events such as the Dizzy Dean Little League World Series, large horse shows, rodeos and even state track meets.
McCullough said, “Now everything has gone to the big cities and the big parks and big arenas where they can hold a couple of thousand people, and we’re kind of left in the dust a little bit. We’re trying to say, ‘Hey, remember us. We’re a nice place to be; we’re in between all the big cities.’” He pointed out that in the past we have hosted some big tournaments that drew teams from Jackson, Tupelo and Oxford. Sometimes these teams want to get away from the big towns and come to a small venue that was more close-knit, and Louisville is still a great place to come to.
According to McCullough, depending on the time of the year, the coliseum is used quite a bit for horse shows, benefits, some concerts and other events. The building suffered some damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the city was able to do some repair and renovation with recovery funds.
The city is able to fund the park work through the Sandy Recovery Act, as a result of Super Storm Sandy which struck New Jersey several years ago. McCullough said this offered a once-in-a-lifetime financing opportunity.
McCullough stated that his top priority is the playground and splash pad and he hopes to get a “go ahead’ from FEMA & MEMA within the next 30 days.
Construction of the high school baseball and softball fields will be undertaken by the school district which owns that property.
McCullough said the goal is to bring more people into town for events, and have them shop at locals businesses and eat at local restaurants which will benefit those establishments, as well as help the local tax base.