Whether or not DeSoto County follows through on long-anticipated plans to build a county-owned and maintained park adjacent to Hawk's Crossing subdivision with access from the subdivision into the park is still undecided as supervisors decided to table the issue until residents can present a workable solution.
Daniel Thomas, President of the Hawk's Crossing Homeowners Association and Matt Moore met with DeSoto County Supervisors on Monday to discuss the issue.
Thomas said he is not opposed to the park, as he is aware a park at that location has been long planned. He and other residents are opposed to allowing access to any potential park from within the subdivision, citing traffic and other concerns.
"We're not opposed to the park but we're opposed to public access," said Thomas.
The problem lies within the fact there is no other alternative for an entrance or exit into the park except from the subdivision itself. It's a dilemma that Board President Mark Gardner pointed out at several different intervals in the discussion.
"You are laying the problem in our laps and give us no solution," Gardner said. "A park with no access is like a bridge to nowhere."
DeSoto County Schools, which operates the Lewisburg School campus, will not allow access to the park with concerns about liability due to a lake that is now owned by the homeowners association.
It seems that developers placed $90,000 in an escrow account for a park after they inadvertently took several thousand dollars worth of dirt from county property to build up the subdivision in order to make the subdivision suitable for building homes there since it was in a flood plain.
The understanding was that the developers would provide land for a county park with access from the subdivision.
Some residents don't want public access to the park and others don't want the park period.
It would be too expensive for the county to build an entire new road from Craft Road into the park, according to District 4 Supervisor Lee Caldwell.
"There is nowhere else to put a public road without an exorbitant amount of taxpayer money," Caldwell said.
Gardner complained that some residents are more or less litigating the issue on social media instead of coming to public meetings to discuss the issue.
"I'll sit down and engage anyone over a glass of sweet tea but I don't engage people on social media," Gardner said.
Gardner said the concept of a public park near a subdivision is generally received as a positive amenity and he finds the opposition to the park "interesting" and more than a little perplexing.
"This is a new concept which has been going on in the cities," Gardner said. "In the community I've lived in it (public park) was always an amenity. In Southaven there is probably 10 of these neighborhood parks."
"We were planning on maintaining a nice park over there," said District 5 Supervisor Michael Lee, who represents the Hawk's Crossing neighborhood.
"I encourage you to come to our board meetings," Lee said. "When things start coming about out there I want the growth to be healthy and right. This county is booming and we haven't really seen anything yet with the growth. You bought into it knowing it (planned community park) was there."
Thomas said residents are most concerned about traffic and unchecked growth.
Multi-use walking trails, a playground and other amenities are on the drawing board for the park.
"This community is growing very, very rapidly," Thomas said. "There is concern about increased traffic and the trickling down of property values" (with access to the park through the neighborhood). There has been a lot of talk about this park. We object 100 percent to accessing the park through the neighborhood."
Gardner again appeared puzzled to objections to a park which could in fact increase property values. A realtor and appraiser by profession, Gardner said parks generally increase property values.
"We're in the fastest-growing county in Mississippi and one of the fastest-growing in the nation," Gardner said. "It's up to this board to provide the infrastructure. We know the growth is inevitable. We want to make sure it's smart growth and not just throw anything up."
Gardner said by the same token, planning along the Interstate 269 corridor has been in the planning stages for years. Some residents who have recently moved to the area may be unaware of the planning that has gone on before.
Gardner along with District 3 Supervisor Bill Russell suggested that some of the residents should have "done their homework" when deciding to locate in the area.
The PUD or Planned Unit Development included plans for a park in addition to a parcel that can have limited commercial application.
"There will be 13 exits off I-269," Gardner said. "There are sites for hotels, motels, restaurants, truck stops and strip malls …" Gardner said of sites up and down the length and breadth of the corridor.
Lee said he preferred the Board of Supervisors table any action on the community park until residents can come back with a solution to the ingress and egress issue regarding access to the park.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252