MWCD Board of Directors approves donation of Atwood Lake Resort to Carroll County commissioners

January 20, 2012

Atwood Lake Resort and Conference Center soon will belong to the Carroll County commissioners.

 

The approval of agreements that officially transfer ownership of the 47-year-old lodge and golf course to the county from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) culminates several years of work by the MWCD to find a new owner for the facility.

 

The commissioners also are expected to approve the agreements during their meeting on Monday (Jan. 23).

 

“The subject of the future of Atwood Lake Resort and Conference Center has been a topic of discussion at meetings of the Board of Directors for nearly a decade and the Board and staff have taken a very deliberate approach to identifying any and all available options for continued operation of the property,” said John M. Hoopingarner, MWCD executive director/secretary. “All of us are extremely pleased that the Carroll County commissioners are preparing to take the resort into a new chapter in its history.

 

“We want to congratulate the Carroll County commissioners and wish them the very best for the future operation of Atwood Lake Resort. Someday all of us hope we can reflect on the donation of the lodge by the MWCD to Carroll County as a successful moment in the history of both the conservancy district and the county.”

 

During a meeting today (Jan. 20), MWCD Board members approved a property donation agreement and related agreements that permit the commissioners to take possession of an estimated 500 acres of property that encompass the resort operation as soon as the transaction closes, which is expected to occur quickly. The 104-room lodge was constructed by the MWCD and opened in 1965, and has been operated through the years by a variety of management and hotel firms, as well as by the MWCD.

 

The three Carroll County commissioners – Doyle D. Hawk, Jeffrey L. Ohler and Thomas A. Wheaton – attended the meeting and thanked members of the MWCD Board for their cooperation and assistance during the donation process.

 

The resort has been closed for more than a year as the MWCD was unable to stop mounting financial losses at the facility that overlooks Atwood Lake.

 

Members of the MWCD Board of Directors agreed this summer to determine the interest of other governmental agencies in taking over the Atwood Lake Resort property through donation, and specifically the consideration of Carroll County commissioners, Kent State University at Tuscarawas, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Officials from ODNR declined the offer, and Kent State University at Tuscarawas has said on several occasions that it is interested in potential partnerships with any future operation of the resort, but that it does not want to own the property.

 

Carroll County commissioners announced an immediate interest in taking over the lodge and recently said they will be working to find an appropriate operator.

 

Hoopingarner said that the MWCD also acknowledges the work of Curt Schneider, vice president of the Chartwell Group of Cleveland, who assisted the conservancy district during the donation process.

 

Atwood Lake Resort, commonly referred to as “Atwood Lodge,” closed in October 2010 after suffering from increasing deficits that exceeded $1 million in each of its last two years of operation. Historically, the resort had 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.

 

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 that are owned by private operators on property leased from the MWCD) 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 follow the MWCD on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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