Luxury resort issues heating up

Luxury resort issues heating up
By: Arnold Wyrick

PINCKNEYVILLE, Mo. - The proposal from a Glen Carbon, Illinois company to build a luxury resort in southern Illinois is drawing a lot of attention.  The Perry County board members voted unanimously Monday to support the proposal.
The Toney Watkins Company is looking to trade a 2,000 acre plot of ground off Greens Market Road for a 2,000 acre plot in Pyramid State Park.  The company wants to build a multi-million dollar resort similar to the one in Branson, Missouri.
"We see this as a win-win situation not only for Perry County, but for all of southern Illinois," said Perry County Engineer Doug Bishop.
"We think it has ramifications for additional usage at other areas.  And the developer has told us they want to promote other areas across southern Illinois," said Bishop.
The land under proposal is known as the Captain Unit in Pyramid State Park.
But some environmental groups are concerned about what will happen to the wildlife already living in the proposed site.
"We've counted water fowl migration out there for the last three years.  And this past year we counted more than 75,000 birds who wintered there and in the surrounding grasslands," said Rhonda Rothrock with the Southern Illinois Audubon Society.
But the idea of a luxury resort isn't sitting well with some folks who live nearby the area.
"It's a pretty busy highway where we are right now.  But, it's going to get a lot busier with that kind of business.  And I don't think I'm ready to deal with stuff like that," said Alisa Boyd of Perry County.
And county leaders say the company is well aware of what it's going to take to make the resort a success with visitors.
"They know that in order for the project to work that getting traffic in and out of there is critical," Bishop said.
The new resort could eventually employ more than 2,000 people once it's up and running according to a spokesperson for the Toney Watkins Company.