VOL. 124 | NO. 44 | Thursday, March 5, 2009
TVA Terminates Lease For Pickwick Marina
By Tom Wilemon
The Tennessee Valley Authority this week gave notice that it will terminate a lease for a proposed marina project on Pickwick Lake that was years behind schedule, in default on its lease payments and in violation of environmental safeguards. Several prominent Memphians have been involved in various aspects of the controversy surrounding the popular getaway area.
The once-wooded hillside had been cleared of trees, leaving a red clay slope that was eroding into the lake. The federal agency will replant vegetation at the 31-acre site along Miss. 25 in Tishomingo County, Miss.
The federal agency had received notice from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality that erosion problems had to be corrected.
“The TVA is committed to bringing the site into compliance with the Mississppi Department of Environmental Quality,” said Jim Allen, a spokesman for TVA. “That means we will file a new stormwater management plan in the near future, and it will include re-vegetation of the site.”
However, long-term plans for the site remain in flux.
“No decision has really been made about the future of the site,” Allen said. “It is planned for development and recreation. The only entity that could change that would be the TVA board.”
The Tishomingo County Development Foundation has the easement from TVA that is being revoked effective April 1. The TCDF had subleased the property to David McMeans of Collierville, the developer of Pickwick Pines Resort, who also planned to build the Pickwick Pines Marina. It was supposed to be a $4 million development with 228 boat slips, a fuel dock, dry-stack storage, a restaurant and rental cabins, according to a 2005 announcement.
McMeans defaulted on his lease payments to TCDF, which, in turn, defaulted on its lease payments to TVA. The defaults have been the focus of an investigation by the U.S. Office of the Inspector General, and the environmental issues have resulted in a federal lawsuit.
The TVA cited three reasons for ending the easement in a letter to Peyton Cummings, chairman of the TCDF, and other officials:
(1) failure to make a minimum lease payment of $26,300 on Dec. 31,
(2) failure to build and operate a marina, restaurant and cabins by Dec. 31 and
(3) failure to prevent erosion and protect water quality.
The area is a popular weekend getaway for many Memphians, including Michael Reddoch, who owns a cabin near the site. He and other frustrated property owners had begun calling the site the “bald knob.”
“The homeowners feel like TVA has made a good decision on not developing this land into a huge marina,” Reddoch said. “We applaud them for their decision-making.”