Some say we need to do something


Comment & Observation

By Joe Lee III


Recently a friend, who is not a big promoter of the proposed new tourism tax and sports park project, declared, ”We’ve got to do something, our town is just dying on the vine.”

It is sad that there is a certain amount of logic to such a fatalistic approach.

We do need to do something.

Forty years ago we were saying, ”Grenada is about to really break loose. We have the largest lake in Mississippi. We are on the Illinois Central Railroad mainline between New Orleans and Chicago. We are a day’s drive from New Orleans. We are halfway between Memphis and Jackson. We have a terrific location. The future is ours…”

Thirty years ago we were saying :”Grenada is about to break loose. We have …”

Twenty years ago …

Ten years ago …

Today, not much has changed. We still have the same great location on I-55. We still have the nation’s top crappie fishing lake. Our population has declined. We no longer have the railroad mainline.

Maybe my friend was right. We’ve got to do something.

Not long ago a very reliable source told us Cracker Barrel was looking at the lot in the Southwest quadrant of Grenada’s Exit 206, next to the Comfort Inn.

The holdup was apparently the frontage road. It is not standard.

A city official said the city was working with the state to get the unacceptable road corrected, but nothing happened, and the coveted restaurant chain moved on.

Last week a person with knowledge of the situation told us that Cracker Barrel was now looking at Winona.

When the Cracker Barrel was built 40 miles north in Batesville, it lessened Grenada’s chance of getting one. If one is built 25 miles south in Winona, Grenada’s chances of ever getting one are just about zero.

Of course, the world does not revolve around Cracker Barrel, but if one were built here, other development would take notice. It would also be a shot of Adrenalin to the sales tax and the new tourism tax.

Concerning Exit 206: if the frontage road is still not fixed and if it was not acceptable to Cracker Barrel, it will not be acceptable to other retail sales tax producers.

Another problem facing Exit 206 is in the Northeast quadrant. A significant number of the aging structures along that frontage road are on leased land. The lease has only a few years to go, and that timeframe discourages investment and improvement.

Further development of the land along the Exit 206 Southeast quadrant faces significant drainage and terrain obstacles.

Maybe my friend is right, we need to do something.

Many say the answer is in the voting booth.

(Full disclosure: The Boss of the House and I own some land along what would be the I-55 Exit 206 Southwest frontage road if the curve is ever corrected and extended. This is not the property that Cracker Barrel was considering; it is due south of there.)