Citizens raise concerns over proposed Lake George Project - - The News for South Mississippi

Citizens raise concerns over proposed Lake George Project

The Lake George Project was discussed at two open house meetings. (Photo source: WLOX) The Lake George Project was discussed at two open house meetings. (Photo source: WLOX)

The Jackson County Board of Supervisors hosted the first of two open house meetings in Vancleave on Monday to answer questions about the Lake George Project.

The proposal to create two lakes by building a dam on a tributary of the Pascagoula River was met with strong opposition.

"All of this (proposed lake area) eventually is going to be owned by nothing but rich. The moment these people can't pay their water front property taxes somebody's coming to buy it. When that happens you and me will no longer be able to go on these reservoirs,” said St. Martin Resident Bill Lyons.

Lyons was one of many voicing concerns along with Vancleave resident Deanna Cole, who started an informal petition collecting signatures opposing the Lake George Project.

"I have yet to come across anyone who has any support for this," said Cole.

Jeff Ballweber, a consultant for the project with the Pickering Firm, said the lakes are necessary because something needs to be done to protect the flow of the river and maintain a consistent water level.

"If it falls below that level, a lake is like a savings account. You can withdraw some water from that and get the river back to normal flows. When the river naturally raises above that level again, you stop withdraws from the lake, and it starts saving water again," said Ballweber

Many of the people attending the meeting were asking questions about a large portion of land in the area where the lakes would be built. The land is owned by the family of Jackson County Supervisor Barry Cumbest.

"In the general vicinity it's about 240 acres," said Cumbest.

While Cumbest admits he could benefit personally from the creation of lakes, he says his land ownership doesn't play a part in his stance.

"I can't let that kind of stuff affect my decision making. I've got to keep my eye on what's important and that's Jackson County and how it's going to affect the Pascagoula River," said Cumbest.

Cumbest also said the issue is still up for debate with the Jackson County Board of Supervisors.

"The board has supported this project all along, but if we see it's not going to do what it's supposed to do or hurt wildlife, then we're not really in favor of it anymore,” said Cumbest.

Another public meeting about the project will be held Tuesday at the East Central Community Center in Hurley from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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