Lake Authority contemplates next step in developing around Tired Creek Lake
The Grady County Lake Authority and its consultant, William F. Butler, hope to have enough information from a recently commissioned market research study to meet jointly with the Grady County Commission sometime next month as the development phase of Tired Creek Lake draws closer.
Butler met with the authority Tuesday night to update the group on his work and to discuss the pros and cons of requests for proposals and requests for qualifications in seeking out potential developers for the lake project.
The county’s consultant indicated his preference would be to issue an RFQ and then select a developer to negotiate with. Butler said that issuing a RFP at this point would require a developer to set a price he/she would be willing to pay at a time when there are too many unknowns and the lake has not even completely filled yet.
On Tuesday night, Butler repeated comments from previous meetings that, in his opinion, it was unlikely a single developer was going to “come in and write a big check” for all of the county’s surplus property around the lake.
Butler said that even if a single developer is interested in the entire tract they would likely only want to purchase it in “bites.”
The consultant also stressed the need to have a governance structure for what can happen both on and off the lake. “Unless we have the governance in place we can’t have the low hanging fruit sales that could be sold off early and generate some cash flow,” Butler said.
Butler also stressed the importance of not boxing in a developer, but rather establishing a framework that preserves the different elements desired by the community while providing some flexibility for a developer to make the project work financially.
Authority member and Grady County Commission Chairman Ray Prince has gone on record in support of establishing a Planned Unit Development (PUD) at the lake, which would require countywide zoning. On Tuesday night, Prince suggested the lake area could be zoned residential and that the remainder of the county could be zoned agricultural.
Authority member Travis Bryant commented that zoning would give homeowners some security and Prince said by zoning the remainder of the county agricultural it would not “tie everyone up.” Prince added that approach would be more attractive to county residents.
After discussing which direction to take on RFP or RFQ, the consensus was to meet jointly with the county commission sometime in November to iron on the details.
Lake Authority Chairman Lee Gainous stressed the need for the board and authority to be on the same page and work together.
Butler’s engagement with the county expires shortly and authority members also want to reach an agreement to extend its contract with Butler. The consultant presented a proposal Tuesday night of a monthly fee of $5,750 with a month-to-month term.
Grady County Commissioner Keith Moye, who attended Tuesday night’s meeting, asked Butler to outline what he had accomplished since being contracted to lead the development for the lake.
Butler said that he had held meetings and conference calls with Laura Benz and Kevin Cauley, conducted a visioning session with local leaders and community representatives, developed the RFQ for the market research study in consultation with Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar, researched alternative methods of wastewater treatment that could be used at the lake initially, and coordinated the contract for the market research study to insure valuable information is included in the study.
“I’m continuing to lead the process to get the product ready to put to market,” Butler added.
Butler said he had to get tough with the RCLCO Real Estate Advisors personnel to make them aware of the uniqueness of this project. “It is not very often, if ever, that one owner can dictate what happens on every linear foot around that lake. We can dictate all of it and that is our opportunity to be different,” Butler said.
He added, “There are thousands of lakes. There are also lots of McDonald’s. You don’t drive by three to get to the fourth one. You go to the one that’s most convenient. The key is doing this in a way that we differentiate this lake from the others. We’ve got to try to do something different. Only then can you compel the consumers to be here.”
The authority also met with University of Georgia Archway Professional Betsy McGriff to discuss resources UGA can provide the authority. McGriff shared with the authority some of the current and ongoing work of Archway workgroups that directly and indirectly impact the lake project. She also offered to bring UGA resources to bear for the project if the authority requested assistance.
Chairman Gainous asked that McGriff begin to regularly attend the authority’s monthly meetings.