Work on Sumrall soccer field delayed because of excessive rain

By HASKEL BURNS,

The steady rain over the last few weeks has continued to frustrate city and county officials by delaying several projects throughout the area – perhaps none more so than in Sumrall, where long-awaited work on the soccer field at the Sumrall Sports Complex has come to a standstill.

During a “State of the Town” meeting Tuesday at Sumrall Town Hall, Mayor Heath Sumrall said dirt was recently installed at the site, but the work on that measure was done far too quickly. That, coupled with the rain, has caused the dirt to settle in an improper fashion.

“It was kind of a rushed project – everybody thought they could get that soccer field in operation,” Sumrall said. “The county came out there and put thousands of yards of dirt, and the time frame has not allowed that to settle – sod was put on top of it almost immediately.

“We have paid $20,000 already for some drainage work, and that field is standing in water as we speak. So the surface of that field is going to have to have a total revamp. A lot of people are mad about that, but we can’t do anything about it; it wasn’t done right to begin with.”

Sen. Joey Fillingane of Sumrall had previously helped secure funding for work at the sports complex under two initiatives: $500,000 through the BP Settlement Bill and $2 million from Senate Bill 3065.

“We’re going to have to go back and re-do it, and it’s going to take time,” Sumrall said. “It’s going to delay use of the field, and people are going to be mad about that.

“But the grass is going to die that they spent all that money on, that they got donations for, because it’s standing in water. We spent money to have drainage put it, and it’s still not draining, so there’s going to have to be a lot of work done on that soccer field before it’s going to be appropriate for use.”

The soccer field was originally started by a private organization, which was assisted in its efforts by Lamar County. After Fillingane secured the funds through the Legislature, the City of Sumrall was asked to take over the park.

“This board of aldermen and myself thought that it would be a good idea to do so, and we did,” Sumrall said. “We still think it’s a good idea, but it’s just going to be a lot of work.”

The $500,000, which was earmarked for new tennis courts at the Sumrall Sports Complex, is part of $750 million distributed statewide as part of the BP Settlement Bill. That bill – formally known as Senate Bill 2002 – was the result of Mississippi’s lawsuit against BP for the 2019 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in which 210 million gallons of oil were spilled into 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 around the state. The University of Southern Mississippi received $13.3 million of those funds, which were earmarked for three areas of improvement at the university: renovations at the Cook Library, transit improvements and renovations at the Kinesiology Building.

“That additional $2 million was received this last month as appropriated from the state to complete our work on that project,” Sumrall said. “The plans for that entire soccer field, tennis courts, and recreational facility runs about $11 million.

“We’re a long way from completing it. We’re planning to get the soccer field, some of the tennis courts, and a few other things built so people can start using that.”