Hed: Presley lake to open next week
By Philip Moulden
Final clearance to open Elvis Presley Lake was assured Thursday, but officials said the recreation facilities will not be available to the public until sometime next week.
A Lee County spokeswoman said cleaning and preparation of the idled recreational facilities and grounds have to be completed before the facility can be opened. That will likely take through the weekend at least, she said.
Officials said Thursday that the state attorney general had ruled his office did not have to approve the agreement under which the lake facility will be run, the last apparent holdup to the lake site’s revival.
Under a pact approved by the Lee County Board of Supervisors earlier this week, the Three Rivers Planning and Development District will operate the facilities, while Tombigbee River Water Management District, the lake’s owner, will fund operations. However, officials believed at that time that the attorney general’s blessing was needed because of state laws governing interlocal agreements.
“We’ve been notified that the attorney general does not have to sign off on the agreement,” Three Rivers spokesman Jay Blissard said Thursday.
“We’re going full blast and as soon as we can get everything cleaned, we’ll open it,” he said. “There are no more bumps in the road. It’s just a matter of getting everything ready.”
The popular recreation spot just to the northeast of Tupelo was shut down last year when the city, which ran it, withdrew its support. Tupelo officials said the operations had to be subsidized to the tune of $100,000 a year, an amount they chose to put into major improvements at city parks.
The water district approached the Board of Supervisors with a plan to open the park in early April, but the proposal called for the county to operate the facility. Three of the five supervisors balked, contending the county should not accept the liability.
County and Tombigbee officials then began looking for another operator and found a willing partner in Three Rivers.
Under the plan, Tombigbee will set aside up to $51,000 to run the facilities through Sept. 30, the end of the lake’s high use season. Gate and user fees are expected to raise about $19,000.
The site will offer camping, picnicking, fishing and boating facilities, but swimming will not be permitted. Swimming was banned at the lake after state liability protections were removed for such facilities a few years ago.
Although the agreement covers only 1996, Three Rivers officials said they are hopeful the pact can be renewed every year.