Starkville Hires Private Company to Manage Municipal Parks | Mississippi News



STARKVILLE, Mississippi (AP) – A town in Mississippi is hiring a private contractor to manage all of its parks.

Starkville aldermen voted 5-2 on Tuesday to approve a $ 15,000-per-month contract with Sports Facilities Management, the Commercial Dispatch reported. The company already had a contract to manage Cornerstone Park, a more than $ 20 million baseball and softball complex that Starkville is building.

The company’s vice president of account management John Sparks said the partnership will allow Starkville to reach more goals and save money. The company – which manages all of Brandon’s city parks – will provide training for coaches in Starkville to improve learning environments for the sport, Sparks said.

Mayor Lynn Spruill said the goal of hiring a private manager is “that we are making programs much more robust and accessible to more children.”

Sparks said not everyone can afford to play travel baseball, like the one Cornerstone will host, and his company will offer programs that allow kids to play sports for free at other parks.

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“There are a lot of kids out there who just need to play at the community level and they don’t know what they’re going to have tomorrow, the next day or next year,” Sparks said. “So we want to get the kids out on the field, expose them to sports teams, to camaraderie, things of that nature, while still being able to deal with it in a disciplined and organized way.”

Alderman Henry Vaughn voted against the contract.

“How many jobs are we going to lose and how many dreams of young people are going to be destroyed because they have the idea that when they finish their studies they will have the opportunity to work for the city and do some of the things who park and recreation will offer? Vaughn said.

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