KINGSTON — Hopes for reinvigorating tourism in Marshall County through the Pointe Vista project continues to dissipate and residents are growing increasingly frustrated.
Those frustrations were voiced during a meeting Friday at which State Auditor Gary Jones and Jim Reese, Secretary of Agriculture, attended. Both Jones and Reece are members of the Commissioners of the Land Office Board which holds a performance bond on Pointe Vista, headed by operations chief Scott Fischer. Also in attendance were Rep. Tommy Hardin (R-Madill), Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant) and Sen. Josh Brecheen (R-Coalgate).
"We had a good discussion," Hardin said. "The people are disappointed with the contract. The problem with the contract is it has no teeth for the state."
The contract went into effect when the property where the Lake Texoma Lodge was located was sold to Pointe Vista in 2008. Terms of the contract state that a 4-star hotel must be substantially complete by May 2014. The Durant Democrat reported last week that in a letter sent to Gov. Mary Fallin's office, Fischer said Pointe Vista will not be able to meet the deadline and is seeking an extension. Economic difficulties dating back to 2008 were cited as reasons for financing problems. The Democrat also said the company is continuing to lay the groundwork for construction of a hotel, convention center and related improvements.
Hardin said the biggest problem is there are three sections and Pointe Vista has A and B and wants C.
"Whether they get it depends on how big the resort is," Hardin said. "People are frustrated at the lack of action."
Action has been relatively non-existent. Pointe Vista has made its payments with little to show for it outside the tearing down of some structures, which it claims as construction. Another question for residents regarding the scope of Pointe Vista's intended project is the capacity of infrastructure to support a sizeable hotel and convention center.
"There are infrastructure concerns with sewer and water," Hardin said. "Before Pointe Vista came here, there were some problems back in 2001 because the sewer lagoon couldn't handle the waste from the lodge and campsites."
As it stands, the state's hands are tied until May of next year as Pointe Vista holds the cards through its contract with the state. And that does little to quell the frustration of Marshall County residents who feel Pointe Vista has failed to live up to its grandiose vision and the state has stood idly by.
"In my opinion, it if goes to court to make them honor the contract, it could take another four years in court," Hardin said. "Then it may be sold to the state, which would have to go through the sale process again. There are businesses closed down. The campground is open but it was the lodge that brought people. There are millions of dollars being lost every year because the tourism is gone."