The boat ramp in Forest Point Subdivision has been leased to the Forest Point Homeowners Association, thus closing access to non-members. This is a trend that began with private boat ramps in newer subdivisions like Fox Bay, and continued with the closure of the Safe Harbor launch. The next step is to now close smaller ramps in subdivisions which have long been open to the public.
Jim McDowell warned us of this long ago in June of 2011 with this blog post.
The parks were once private, designated for the use of the residents of the subdivision where the park was located. The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District even issued bumper stickers to residents so the Reservoir Patrol could identify park users.More recently, Brian Broom with the Clarion Ledger heralded the changes in this article from June.
In 1987 the PRVWSD settled a law suit that had been in the courts for a number of years. The result of that settlement caused many changes for area residents. Law and Fire protection was stopped by the PRVWSD, the local county or municipality picked up that responsibility. The PRVWSD also stopped providing street maintenance and garbage pickup. The mini parks were also a casualty - what was once used as a marketing tool to lure property buyers, your own private boat launch/park, was taken away and turned into a public facility.
The parks are now a big problem for neighborhoods. More boat owners plus the explosive growth in the number of jet ski's has caused in increase in demand for launch facilities. Summer weekends see a huge increase in traffic in and out of these parks.
Other small ramps may also be closed to the general public. Sigman said the Barnett Reservoir board of directors recently approved a plan to lease the Forest Point boat ramp and park to the neighborhood homeowners association. The same may be done in other neighborhoods.
For neighborhood residents, leasing the ramps means less outside traffic. For Barnett Reservoir, the $25 lease of a park or boat ramp doesn't generate appreciable income, but it's still beneficial.
"What the district gets out of leasing a ramp and park is we no longer have to maintain them," Sigman said. "You're talking small amounts of money, but it is reducing our maintenance effort."
Individually, the ramps cost little to maintain, but collectively, the costs and labor add up. "There are probably 15 of those neighborhood ramps like that," Sigman said.
Even so, Sigman said it's more about the residents. "The bigger issue is the quality of life for the people who live in the subdivisions," Sigman said.
While there is potential for future neighborhood ramp leasing, Sigman pointed out that there are 14 other public ramps outside of the neighborhoods and the savings in labor and money can go toward maintaining and improving them.