Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2008
When some legal paperwork gets finalized, the J.P. Hudson Park Association expects to hold the title to the pair of old ball fields and the swimming pool located between streets Pollard and Broadway in north Batesville.
Generations of little league ballplayers are familiar with that plot of land, where dreams lived and died on a baseball diamond, and winners and losers alike went home with a snow cone. Growth in Batesville and Panola County eventually outgrew those ball fields, and a larger facility was built just up the street.
The old J.P. Hudson Park, meanwhile, was turned into practice fields and today is a shell of its former glory.
After beating back an attempt by the City of Batesville to own the park, J.P. Hudson officials say they plan to clean up the property and maintain it, and fill in the swimming pool. All they need now is the property title to remedy concerns over liability issues.
There was a better way. The City of Batesville should have pressed on with its plan to own the park, offering a very important olive branch to J.P. Hudson: a long-term agreement that preserved the two practice fields and gave little league coaches control of the fields during ball season.
But that didn’t happen, and any notion of cooperation between the city and J.P. Hudson was trampled underfoot when both sides wanted the same thing.
If the City of Batesville and J.P. Hudson had worked together, then the Green Acres neighborhood could have enjoyed something few older Batesville subdivisions have: a small neighborhood park.
According to Mayor Jerry Autrey, he envisioned playground equipment and a walking trail. If J.P. Hudson gains the property title, it will officially win ownership, but what will it do then? Property with two seldom-used ball fields is still a far cry from a nice, well-maintained neighborhood park.
If the damage done can be repaired, and somebody on both sides can start a dialogue, then the city can own the property then offer a fair arrangement to J.P. Hudson.
Then maybe Green Acres can get its own park and be the envy of Batesville.