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Area city makes marina low priority

Profile image for By John D. Harden / Staff Writer
By John D. Harden / Staff Writer

Pilot Point decides to focus on other projects

PILOT POINT — Plans to build a marina on Ray Roberts Lake near Pilot Point are still in the works, but until officials locate the necessary funding and other citywide needs are addressed, the project has fallen lower on the city’s list of priorities.

The marina project has been under discussion for a few years, but obstacles have halted the city’s efforts to get it rolling. In fiscal year 2012-2013, the marina was a top priority. But this year, city officials moved it near the bottom of the list.

City officials instead have decided to place an emphasis on infrastructure improvements, master planning, downtown improvements and building restorations. Officials also expressed an interest in placing more attention on items such as police, fire and emergency medical services.

In recent months, the city has rolled out several plans and funded a few projects related to downtown and infrastructure improvements.

Last year, the city issued about $1.5 million in bonds to be used for street and sidewalk improvements, water and wastewater improvements and historic preservation. Another project included repurposing the old 201 S. Jefferson St. building into a museum.

In response to other city needs, the marina was given a lower priority, but City Manager Tom Adams said work will continue as time permits.

“Right now, we have other projects the council wants to address,” he said.

The marina project is a partnership with Forever Resorts of Scottsdale, Ariz., which took ownership of the Lantana Lodge in 2007, after the previous owner filed for bankruptcy.

To help fund the project, Forever Resorts has worked on obtaining a state grant. City officials expressed a willingness to provide the sewer infrastructure for the project if the grant is obtained. However, the contractor has not obtained a state grant and there’s no timetable as to when they’ll be awarded a grant.

Calls to Forever Resorts were not returned by press time Monday.

A few years ago, the Pilot Point Economic Development Corporation established strategic goals and priorities, and one of its primary goals has been to work with and encourage the development of the marina as part of the Lantana improvements off of FM1192.

An early obstacle the city faced included the state’s stalling the project because state officials wanted complete engineering done for additional projects on the lake in addition to the marina.

However, city staff said, after some work negotiations, the state indicated a willingness to accept just the detailed engineering for the marina.

That made the project more feasible because it allowed the city to focus on one project and its expenses rather than several projects at once, allowing the marina project to move forward.

In early 2013, a team of planning experts who visited Pilot Point recommended the city make an investment in a marina on the east side of the lake. They also recommended the marina include a designated area for non-motorized watercraft.

The team members said it was important for the city to provide recreational activities to improve the quality of life for residents.

One of the team members, Wayne Feiden, a planning consultant from Massachusetts, said Pilot Point and its residents could benefit from the additional marina because it could also attract people from nearby cities.

“Any time you can add an incentive for someone to visit your city, it’s always worth it,” he said. “Pilot Point is unique because it sits on the lake. The quicker they can capitalize on the lake’s potential, the better.”

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.