LaCrosse Fields Dropped From Railroad Reservation Plan
City Center () - Following a debate which brought together neighborhood leaders, economic development interests and loft dwellers, the LaCrosse fields were dropped from downtown Birmingham's Railroad Reservation Master Plan. There were heated arguments from both sides, including a passionate plea from Chief Red Feather to acknowledge the contributions of Native Americans while at the same time improving the cultural awareness of our inner city youth. "I envision a time when black, red, and white can play this marvelous sport together," said the Chief speaking from his cell at the Mel Bailey Criminal Justice Center. Others argued that this was a perfect opportunity, on a national stage, to show how far Birmingham has come towards the acceptance of new and different ideas. In the end, as with the soccer before it, the sport was seen as too closely tied to Communism and illicit sex to be allowed in the park.
The elimination of the LaCrosse and soccer fields left a void which will be filled by the planned expansion of the reservation's Casino, which is run by Native Americans. "While some aspects of their culture may unacceptable to us," said Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid, "we certainly want to continue to foster economic opportunity for all of our peoples and the expansion of the casino should do just that."
For most of Kincaid's two terms, the Railroad Reservation Park has been the top priority on his agenda. Kincaid made a special appointment of Renee Kemp-Rotan whose sole job is to make the park a reality. Balancing the needs of loft dwellers who want to see an urban farm, dog park, and skulling course with the desires of traditional downtown residents who would like to see covered benches, fire barrels, and plasma center has been difficult. "We are trying to pack a lot into these 8 square blocks," said Kemp-Rotan. "Someone asked me the other day why we can't just model it on a successful urban park like Central Park, and I tell them it just isn't that simple. Birmingham is not New York."
The public debate has made clear the need for two baseball and four football fields as well as several lighted basketball courts. The result being that the initial acreage will not be sufficient for the elevated walking and biking trails which had been planned as part of improved connecting corridors between Downtown and the UAB area.
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