MWCD to finalize donation of Atwood Lake Resort to Carroll County
November 18, 2011
The future operation of Atwood Lake Resort and Conference Center is expected to be in the hands of Carroll County commissioners soon.
The owner of the 104-room hotel and meeting center, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) Board of Directors, has approved its intention to donate the lodge and property that it sits on to the Carroll County commissioners. Final terms and conditions of the donation will be negotiated and are expected to be completed for approval by both the commissioners and the MWCD Board members in upcoming weeks, according to officials from both agencies.
“This is a very exciting day for Carroll County and its residents as we prepare for a bright future for Atwood Lake Resort and Conference Center,” said Carroll County Commissioner Thomas A. Wheaton following a meeting of the MWCD Board of Directors today (Nov. 18) at New Philadelphia. “We want to thank the MWCD, its Board of Directors and its staff for their hard work on making this donation possible, and for their commitment to Carroll County to preserve the lodge and its future possibilities.”
John M. Hoopingarner, MWCD executive director/secretary, said he hopes that final donation documents can be prepared for approval by the end of the year.
“I want to congratulate the Carroll County commissioners for their dedication to the community and the future of the lodge,” Hoopingarner said. “The MWCD Board of Directors has taken a great deal of time and effort to ensure that all potential uses for the future of this property have been explored, and this step to donate the resort to Carroll County opens a new chapter for the resort and for Carroll County.”
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.
Wheaton said the commissioners had an immediate interest in taking over the lodge and will be working to find an appropriate operator as the terms of the donation are finalized.
“We are pleased that we have reached this point in the process and look to the days ahead that include a very vibrant operation at Atwood Lake Resort that benefits the Atwood Lake region and the entire Carroll County community,” Wheaton said.
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.
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 that are owned by private operators on property leased from the MWCD) remain open for business as usual and are not affected by the negotiations.
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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