McComb, Brookhaven leaders don’t want pools

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 5, 2001

Karen Harveston juggles schedules for dozens of ball teams and hundreds of youngsters in Brookhaven each summer. But don’t ask her to manage a swimming pool.

As program director for the city’s recreation department, Harveston speaks glowingly of karate, baton, tennis, gymnastics, art, softball, volleyball and a myriad of other sports and activities the department sponsors in the summer months and throughout the year.

But swimming? The two former pools exist no more, and that suits Harveston just fine. &uot;They’re gone. Filled in. Nothing there. And I don’t want them,&uot; she said, explaining the headaches involved in operating and maintaining a swimming pool. &uot;They are a big liability, and they cost you big money. There are lifeguards to hire, an expenses to run them.&uot; For swimmers, she said, there’s Percy Quin State Park, not far away in neighboring Pike County.

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The recreation programmer at McComb agreed. &uot;We had a pool years ago but not anymore,&uot; said Joyce Smith, as she described the facilities and activities provided by the department. &uot;Percy Quin is five miles away. Children can swim there.&uot;

A call to the two communities in Southwest Mississippi counties provided some comparison with Natchez programs. Natchez city and recreation officials recently learned that an area near Natchez High School they hoped to develop as a recreation complex may not be suitable as a permanent site.

Adding to concerns was the decision that the public swimming pool at Duncan Park could not be opened for the summer.

In Brookhaven, where 75 to 100 different ball teams play games in the summer, Harveston oversees those activities at the sports complex built about 10 years ago to centralize the summer games. The area includes three soccer fields, and four softball fields. The large building at the site includes an upstairs meeting room that could accommodate 200 people and the score rooms along the outside of the building overlooking the lighted fields.

Brookhaven, with its population of about 12,000, is smaller than Natchez, but Lincoln County, at 33,000 is closer to the size of Adams.

The sports complex and the recreation program are city-owned and -operated but county children freely take part in the activities, Harveston said.

The new multi-purpose building constructed for recreation is a joint city-county project. It houses many programs, including 4-H clubs, and is next door to the livestock arena.

&uot;We had a rodeo there a few weeks ago,&uot; she said.

Brookhaven’s program provides activities for children from about age 3 to adult. There are tennis lessons and art lessons for the youth; bridge and western dancing for the adults. There are six full-time employees.

In McComb, with about 12,000 people, and Pike County at about 38,000, the recreation program funded by the city operates at two parks, Central Park and East McComb Activity Field, programmer Joyce Smith said.

There are fields at four other locations where soccer, softball and soccer are played.

The McComb department has three full-time workers, Smith said.

Programs focus on the children, especially in the summer when supervised camps for the month of July provide games and activities with adults conducting the programs from 8 a.m. to noon.