- Special Sections
- Dawgs Deals
Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Marvell Howard says public discussion on the vacant county lake lease is needed to gather input from local citizens.
Howard said he will ask the board to set a time and date for such a discussion during the boardâs 5:30 p.m. meeting Monday at the county courthouse.
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks officials vacated the agencyâs facilities located at the Oktibbeha County Lake campgrounds after the organization declined to renew its 16th section recreational land lease with the county school board following a reappraisal of the landâs value by the secretary of stateâs office.
The entire 16th sectionâs 642.52 acres, including the 407 acres of lake and campground facilities involved in the MDWFP lease, were reappraised at $100 per acre. MDWFP last held a 25-year lease which stipulated a $2,500 minimum annual payment.
County school board members formally accepted MDWFPâs decision May 7 and held a work session with supervisors prior to its first monthly meeting. The school board is currently accepting lease proposals for the property, but no deadline for proposals was set at its previous meeting.
Mike Ainsworth, a 16th section land manager, said the board can accept the highest and âbest-useâ proposal.
Howard said county residents should have a say in the lakeâs future because its construction was funded by taxpayers.
âWeâve got to have public discourse to have some kind of guidance,â he said. âAlso, we want to get the accurate story out there as to whatâs happening at the lake. People donât really know the situation. Some folks think the board of supervisors has a say about the lake, and some think the school board doesnât want to negotiate a deal. I want to get the accurate story out there as from the secretary of stateâs standpoint.â
During the work session between the two boards, supervisors voiced concerns over the possibility of an individual or entity turning the lake into private property. After the work session, District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery said the lake needs to remain open to Oktibbeha County citizens no matter who holds the lease.
âThatâs our county lake; thatâs where people go to spend their weekends, fish and camp. Itâs almost become a tradition in a sense,â he said May 7. âBottom line: It needs to be a public lake.â
In other business, Golden Triangle Planning Development District Executive Director Rudy Johnson said he will be present at Mondayâs meeting to answer questions about his organizationâs development of a county comprehensive plan. The development of a comprehensive plan and county 911 readdressing was contracted to the GTPDD in 2009.
In a letter to the editor in Wednesdayâs edition of Starkville Daily News, Roy Montgomery, a spokesperson for the Oktibbeha County Land Use Coalition who is scheduled for discussion time during Mondayâs meeting, questioned the comprehensive planâs timeline for completion.
âAccording to the contract (issued in 2009), that work was to be completed by Sept. 30, 2009,â Montgomery said in his letter. âThe bottom line is that we, as taxpayers, have a right to expect the supervisors to honor the measures they vote for and to spend our money prudently. We also have a right to expect that the contracts they issue on our behalf be issued through a competitive process and completed in a timely manner.â
During the previous board term, supervisors said the contractâs 2009 completion date was listed erroneously.
âWeâre pretty much waiting on the GTPDD to complete the plan. Theyâve finished base mapping and the readdressing portion,â Howard said.