Ideas for Tired Creek Lake development are shared
The Grady County Lake Authority and Grady County Commission met jointly last Wednesday for a vision meeting on the development of Tired Creek Lake.
Also attending were Cairo and Whigham city officials, Grady County School System personnel, members of the Grady County Joint Development Authority and private citizens.
The June 7 meeting was held at the Cairo High School Hancock Library.
“I believe we had a very successful visioning session where numerous, interesting and meaningful ideas were discussed. My team and I are reviewing and studying all our notes and takeaways and plan on presenting our observations to the authority. After that discussion and authority direction, we plan to begin our more detailed research in an effort to best determine and subsequently recommend to the authority the best plan and program for the lake that will allow Grady County to accomplish its goals,” said Will Butler, Tired Creek consultant and owner of Real Estate InSync of Tallahassee, Fla.
The Lake Authority is meeting again with Butler today and will ultimately bring forward recommendations for the approval of the Grady County Commission as the development plan moves forward.
“It’s real important that whatever happens at the lake, y’all want it to happen,” Butler told the audience last week.
Assisting Butler with facilitating the meeting was Tait Martin and Grace Jacobsen of Taproot Agency of Tallahassee.
“The real focus of today’s meeting is getting your ideas out,” Martin said.
Other than maintaining the lake’s permitted use as a recreational fishing lake, the majority of participants said that development creating the most economic impact through the generation of additional ad valorem taxes for the county was the primary goal for the development around the lake.
Ideas about what that development might be varied greatly.
Grady County Commission Vice Chairman Ray Prince, also the commission’s representative on the Lake Authority, suggested that a casino might be considered.
“We need something to drive money,” he said and urged everyone to think “out-of-the-box.”
Several officials voiced opposition to the idea of a casino being considered, which prompted Prince to comment, “I’m trying to prevent this from being a burden to our taxpayers.”
Lake Authority member Travis Bryant noted that there was only one chance to develop the lake the “right way” and said, “We need to make sure what we are doing at the lake enhances the quality of life for the people here.”
Former Grady County commissioner Charles Norton attended the vision meeting and took the opportunity to propose his idea to solicit state officials to purchase the lake and use the proceeds to pay off the county’s debt on the project. Norton contends that development in the area near the lake would take place and would generate additional tax revenue.
Another former county commissioner present was Charles Renaud who suggested perhaps there was a way to propose a joint project with the City of Whigham to obtain a sewer system for Whigham as well as the lake.
Discussion of the need for water and sewer service at the lake was deemed critical for development by participants at last Wednesday’s meeting.
Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton, who participated in the meeting, said the city had capacity to provide water and sewer services, but said it was unlikely the city would invest in running service out to the lake at city expense.
Another unique idea shared was from Paul Blough, a local businessman and the current chairman of the Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce. Blough suggested the need for additional quality hotel rooms to accommodate visitors and tourists to the area. He also proposed the possibility of establishing a business park at the lake.
Butler brought up concerns with the line of sight issues caused by trees left standing in the main body of water and in the upper fingers of the lake. The authority’s consultant said he would recommend those trees be felled immediately before the lake is filled. Butler also cited a loss of value of lots caused by a less than desirable view from the shore.
“We heard a lot of good ideas and comments last week. I appreciate everyone who attended. We will be working with Will (Butler) to come up with a plan to accomplish the best outcome possible for Grady County. I’m excited to be a part of this effort and we have the right people in place to make good decisions for this project,” Lake Authority Chairman Lee Gainous said.
“We’ve got an asset and we need to get the most out of it,” Chairman Gainous added.