GLUCKSTADT, MS (WLBT) – The Madison County School Board considered whether it will lease 16th Section Land for development into a water park and amphitheater near Germantown Middle School.
Project developers made a second presentation to the board and residents Monday.
School board officials also heard from homeowners who are opposed to the plans.
Madison County School Board members viewed the site of the proposed water park and 15,000 seat amphitheater just north of Sowell Road off I-55 in Gluckstadt.
They must decide if JMJ Holdings and Neu Markt can build on 66 acres of 16th Section Land.
Planners described it as a $40 million dollar project.
Madison County Schools Superintendent Mike Kent said the school board was approached by the development group in the fall.
He said the district has an obligation to consider the proposal as a part of their responsibilities to maximize 16th Section Land revenue.
"If the appraised value is $30,000.00 an acre, it's 8% of that is the annual lease payment in this particular case it would be about $160,000.00 a year," said Kent.
Near the proposed site are the Germantown and Panther Creek Subdivisions.
Representatives of homeowners spoke against the plan citing noise, lighting, traffic and lowered property values.
However they do support plans for upscale retail, restaurants and offices in the location.
Bill Weisenberger has lived in Germantown since 1981 and has attended both the previous school board meeting on the plan and a public meeting for residents.
He said there are about 75 to 80 homes in the Germantown subdivision.
"It's this particular type of venue with the water park and the alcohol sales and other things that I think most of the people are against," said Bill Weisenberger.
Panther Creek Homeowners Association President Wesley Slay said there are roughly 122 property owners in the subdivision.
Aside from the obvious concerns about noise from the outdoor concerts, Slay said the lagging water park industry should be a major consideration.
He cited the closure of Rapids on the Reservoir and said he was told the water park in Philadelphia would not be opening this year.
"I don't think a water park will help attract those kind of businesses actually the concern I've got is it'd be a major deterrent to the kind of businesses we want to attract," said Slay.
Developers said the project has resident support, a 50 acre buffer zone and will bring in a $1 million dollars annually in taxes.
Neu Markt Developer Tim Weaver has partnered with JMJ Holdings.
He said there are 331 acres that can be turned into a destination location that would also include a hotel.
Weaver estimated that only about 11 families who showed up at the meeting are opposed to the project.
He argued that water parks are successful and would be a good fit for the outlet mall and destination location they are trying to create.
"I think Neu Markt will get its vote and be able to open the water park and the amphitheater. I think we're well within our lease which was negotiated with this school board, and I think they have certain fiduciary duties to uphold the lease," said Weaver.
JMJ Holdings is headquartered in Dallas.
Representative David Dodd told school officials that 65 acres in the northeast portion of the property would include a wade pool, slides and elevated rides.
It would open 10a.m. to six p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day.
He said no alcohol would be sold or allowed at the water park.
Dodd told board members that the amphitheater would include 4,000 hard seats and seating for 9,000-10,000 in the grass area.
He said only beer would be sold at the amphitheater which would have eight to nine performances a year.
Concerts would take place in the evening hours but the venue could also be used for high school graduations and other activities.
"We want to satisfy the concerns of the citizens, and we see this as a great development. It's a premiere site for a water park development, a premiere site for the things.We're wanting to do for it. When you release a lot of people in the flow of traffic that interchange is perfect for it," said JMJ Holdings representative David Dodd.
After hearing from both sides the board went into executive session for about 15 minutes before deciding to table the issue.
The school board will take up the issue during its March 8th meeting.
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