Several projects still in works to draw more people toward Reservoir

Multiple projects expected to draw more people to the Ross Barnett Reservoir
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 7:35 PM CST
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MADISON CO., Miss. (WLBT) - As the weather gets warmer this spring, lots of folks will be spending time on the Ross Barnett Reservoir. At the same time, some new and ongoing projects will be taking shape around the big lake.

Developer Frank Perkins’ background is in oil and gas exploration, but these days, he’s prospecting for homebuilders and people interested in living on some previously undeveloped property near the northern tip of the Reservoir.

It’s called Expedition Point, and it’s situated at the southeast corner of Highway 43 and the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Work beginning at Expedition Point on the reservoir
Work beginning at Expedition Point on the reservoir(WLBT)

“We’ve got lots of young families that are interested out here that are active, sports-wise, with either the boating activities or the bike paths that we’ll have,” Perkins says. “There are a lot of elderly or retired people that are looking for a quiet place with views.”

Perkins says the first phase of Expedition Point includes lots of green space and 70 home sites of various sizes, nearly all with views of the water. Future plans include a lodge-style clubhouse, more home sites, and a 16-acre commercial area around the existing Brown’s Landing, which will remain open to the public.

“[We could] possibly put a marina down closer to 43, along with boat storage so those people in the neighborhood that are not on the water can actually store their boat and access the boat ramp very easily.”

The utilities, including fiber internet, are all underground. Expedition Point lies within the Germantown zone of the Madison County School District.

Down at the south end of the Reservoir, a project we’ve been talking about for almost 17 years in the Main Harbor area still has not materialized. Back in 2005, the Dock restaurant and bar was closed and dismantled to make way for an ambitious commercial and residential development called HarborWalk.

There is some activity on the site now, but only to remove old fuel from the lake bed from the Dock’s old gas pumps. Temporary construction fencing was erected for that project, prompting speculation about whether HarborWalk was finally coming together.

“I get more questions on that than anything else,” says Reservoir manager John Sigman, who conceded that even he is not sure what will ultimately happen with the property.

“It’s going to include high-density residential condominiums -- and/or ‘residential live/work buildings,’ we call them -- and restaurants. They’ve got several restaurants that are interested. It will come; I just can’t tell you when.”

Through a Flowood public relations agency, Main Harbor Development would not say much about what it plans to build on the site, beyond some additional boat slips.

When we started asking about it again, the company had the HarborWalk website taken down. It had featured detailed plans and animated renderings of the various aspects of the project. They said it was no longer up to date, and that they hope to share new information about future plans later this year.

A rendering of previous plans for Harbor Walk
A rendering of previous plans for Harbor Walk(Harbor Walk)

Nearby, there are still plans to take traffic off of the Reservoir dam. A new, four-lane causeway would replace the existing Bob Anthony Parkway. It would be built just downriver, parallel to the exiting road.

Sigman says they’ve just gotten a federal grant for environmental and design work. The road itself will cost about $150 million.

“We don’t yet have construction money secured, so we’re looking for that,” he said, adding that the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (PRVWSD) has requested at least some funding for the project from the state’s share of federal pandemic money.

Large trucks like 18-wheelers cannot use the existing road over the dam, but they would be permitted to use the new causeway.

Another spot we’ve been watching is the old Rapids on the Reservoir property near the east end of Spillway Road. The water park that was once located there was a summer haven for kids and families from the mid-1980s until it closed in the late 2000s.

More than a year ago, P360 Performance Sports acquired the lease on the property, with plans to build its headquarters there along with a baseball training facility and fields for baseball and volleyball.

The developer says the baseball fields should be ready by August 2022, with beach volleyball coming sometime after that. He says they still plan to put the headquarters on the site.

All this development, slow as it might come, potentially affects the quality of life at the Reservoir. Sigman says that is something the PRVWSD, which oversees the Reservoir and leases the property around it, always has to keep in mind.

“It’s difficult sometimes, but it’s a task that we look forward to. It’s why we’re here. The money that comes from leases is used to maintain the lake, to improve the lake, and we have to ever be growing in that revenue stream. That’s one of the things we do. That’s what we’re here for.”

The 33,000-square-acre reservoir was built in the 1960s. More than sixty residential subdivisions now surround it, according to the PRVWSD website.

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