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SUNDAY, AUGUST 27, 2006
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EDITORIAL

First-class Jack Allen complex model for parks

As workers scurry to finish a scaled-back Ingalls Harbor in time for the annual Riverfest, they might consider why Jack Allen Southwest Recreation Complex is such a hit.

It's because the facility and soccer fields are first-class.

The current administration inherited the Ingalls Harbor project and immediately decided the city's newest park was going to be too rich for its pocketbook.

But look at what's happening at Jack Allen because of former Mayor Lynn Fowler's insistence that the park be first-class. Even after his defeat two years ago, Mr. Fowler found ways to keep the finishing touches to the park on the course to perfection he set.

The Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau last week announced that three soccer tournaments are coming to the Allen complex in the months ahead. Two will be in December and one in March.

The reason? The soccer complex was such a hit with teams playing in this summer's Presidential Cup tournament that more out-of-town players want to come to Decatur.

"I'm telling you, everybody is looking at our fields hot and heavy," the bureau's president, Tami Reist, told board members.

Each of the tournaments may fill as many as 500 hotel rooms. The trickle-down also will be felt in restaurants, at gasoline pumps and at shopping malls. Each time a cash register records a sale, the city gets tax revenue.

And this is because Mr. Fowler and the previous council didn't settle for second-class. They built something special.

Riverfest isn't until the middle of next month, which leaves contract and city workers pressed for time to get things in place. More important, however, is how Ingalls Harbor measures up next year and in coming years.

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