Agencies meet with MWCD on possible Atwood Lake Resort donation

August 19, 2011

The public agencies identified as possibly having an interest in receiving the donation of Atwood Lake Resort and Conference Center have been presented with preliminary details about the offer from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD).

 

Meetings have been held by the MWCD with Carroll County commissioners, Kent State University at Tuscarawas and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

 

“All three meetings were positive in tone and included very productive discussions about Atwood Lake Resort, the decision by the MWCD Board of Directors to offer the resort for donation to the entities and the MWCD’s pledge to cooperate with them completely as they consider the offer,” said John M. Hoopingarner, MWCD executive director/secretary.

 

All three entities are considering the proposal and the opportunities the proposed donation may present for them, Hoopingarner told members of the MWCD Board of Directors during a meeting Friday (Aug. 19). No timetables have been established for the agencies to provide a final decision to the MWCD about the donation offer, he added.

 

The 104-room resort closed nearly a year ago after a period of significant declining business. Last month, members of the MWCD Board reversed an earlier decision to set the Carroll County lodge for demolition and instead directed that it be offered for donation to another willing government agency, then set for sale or auction prior to any action to tear it down. Board members specifically identified that Carroll County commissioners, Kent State University at Tuscarawas and ODNR be contacted to determine their interest in taking over the resort.

 

The MWCD also has updated members of the Ohio General Assembly about the status of the resort in response to an appeal last month by several legislators urging the MWCD Board to suspend any plans to raze the resort.

 

Atwood Lake Resort, commonly referred to as “Atwood Lodge,” closed last October and has suffered from increasing deficits that exceeded $1 million in each of the past two years. Historically, the resort has not been a source of revenues for the MWCD, losing an average of more than $159,000 per year since it opened in 1965.

 

Occupancy rates and use of the resort’s guest and conference rooms had decreased sharply in recent years, while utility and maintenance costs for the main structure had increased. MWCD officials also said the increasing losses have hampered the conservancy district’s ability to address basic maintenance, infrastructure and customer requests at its other recreational operations at Leesville, Tappan, Clendening, Piedmont, Seneca, Wills Creek, Charles Mill, Pleasant Hill, Beach City and Atwood lakes, including its parks, campgrounds, cottage areas and marinas.

 

The conservancy district is spending more than $60,000 per month in utilities, insurance, taxes, general maintenance and security for the idle property, in addition to staff time.

 

Atwood Lake Park, which is operated by the MWCD, and the two marinas located on Atwood Lake (Atwood Lake Boats Marina East and Atwood Lake Boats Marina West) remain open for business as usual.

 

The lodge is located on about 600 acres of property owned by the MWCD off Rt. 542 between Sherrodsville and Dellroy in Carroll County and when it was fully operational, included the 104-room main hotel, dining room and conference center, two golf courses (an 18-hole regulation course and a lighted, nine-hole, par-3 course), 17 vacation cabins and indoor and outdoor swimming pools, along with other amenities.

 

The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses in the Muskingum River Watershed, the largest wholly contained watershed in Ohio. Since their construction, the 16 reservoirs and dams in the MWCD region have been credited for saving nearly $10 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to the federal government, as well as providing popular recreational opportunities that bolster the region’s economy. A significant portion of the reservoirs are managed by the MWCD and the dams are managed for flood-risk management by the federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

 

For more information about the MWCD, visit www.mwcd.org and on Facebook.

 

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