Some long-awaited improvements are on the way to the Robert E. Russell Sportsplex and Brad Pickett Memorial Ballfields on Hillcrest Road in Petal, particularly the paving and re-paving of the complex’s parking lots.
Work will entail paving the gravel parking lot at the site’s four-plex, basketball and tennis courts, as well as widening the sidewalks to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The measure was recently approved at a meeting of the Petal Board of Aldermen, when board members voted to accept engineering contracts with Hattiesburg firm Shows, Dearman & Waits for the improvements.
“The four-plex has never been paved,” said Brian Hall, director of the City of Petal Parks and Recreation Department. “Directly across the street from the YMCA, the old high school fields, that’s going to be re-paved. It’s going to be nice to have them all paved, and lined properly for better parking.”
The work is made possible with the help of Mississippi House District 104 Representative Larry Byrd, who secured $600,000 through state bonds for the project.
“He had got that placed into a bond about a year ago, and it’s taken this long for the bond to be issued by the state, and then the funds have to be issued to all the entities that are mentioned in the bond,” Mayor Hal Marx said. “He had put in the bond that this money had to be used to improve the parking lots there, and then any money left can also be used for other improvements to the parking lots or general improvements to the facilities at that sports complex.
“This is one of those giant state bonds that they put a lot of different things into, and Representative Byrd put that in there for Petal. He wanted to see that parking lot look great, so we’re obviously going to follow the directions on what the bond money has to be spent on.”
The project will go out to bid in the near future, and work is expected to begin in August or September. Construction will tentatively last approximately two weeks.
“Any time that we get outside money that doesn’t directly cost our local taxpayers out of their general fund is good,” Marx said. “We have a tight budget, and we have our general fund money already spent on other things that we feel are priorities.
“It’s one of those kind of projects that never quite seemed to get on the list of things we have money for here. But when we get outside money from the state, it helps you get those things done. So we thank Representative Byrd for putting that in the bond and getting that for us, and thank him for supporting Petal that way.”
Complex A at the Robert E. Russell Sportsplex and Brad Pickett Memorial Ballfields offers 25 acres of recreational activities, including T-ball fields, a concession stand, restrooms, a tennis court, a walking track and batting cages. Complex B is an extension of Complex A and includes four youth baseball fields, a concession stand, restrooms, a playground, batting cages, soccer fields, a skate park, a recreation office, gazebos with tables and benches, and sidewalks.
Complex C, which is the former Optimist Park, is now the home of the Petal Dixie Softball Association. It has three softball fields, a concession stand and restrooms.