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SHENANGO RIVER LAKE Corps officials remain mum on campground developer



Published: Sun, August 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



A developer for the vacant site should be selected in September.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

CLARK, Pa. -- It looks like a strong second effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in attracting a developer for the former YMCA campground on Shenango River Lake, but corps officials are keeping mum on the deal.

The 43-acre site on the southern side of the lake has been unused since the corps refused to renew the Shenango Valley YMCA's lease on the property for the year 2000.

The corps said the YMCA, which controlled the campground for 30 years, failed to develop it into a full recreational facility as required.

An effort by the corps to attract developers to the location last year failed when no one submitted a development proposal by the June 2000 deadline but a new push on the site this year has shown improved results.

There had been expressions of interest last year, but it appeared that the eight potential developers were unwilling to invest money in a site they can't own, said Nancy Mullen, realty specialist with the corps' real estate division in Pittsburgh.

The corps is willing to lease the land for a 25-year period and could extend that for another 25 years, she said.

Broader advertising: The corps decided to try advertising the site again this spring on a national level rather than taking a regional approach and drew interest from as far away as New Jersey.

Several local potential developers toured the location in May.

In addition to the broader advertising, the agency decided to relax its development criteria. It had been looking for a lodge-type project that could offer a variety of sports such as basketball and tennis in addition to water sports but has now said it will accept developments with other types of overnight accommodations.

Cabins, which are popular at state-maintained lakes in the region, would be one possibility, Mullen said.

Submissions: The corps set July 27 as the new date for the submission of development proposals and did get some, she said, declining to be specific about how many, where they are from and what type of developments are being considered.

The corps is reviewing those proposals and will select a developer in September, Mullen predicted. The plans will be made public at that point, she said.

"We're very pleased and excited. We will have a developer this time," she said. However, it will probably be next year before any new development is ready for public use, she said.

The YMCA said it never had the money to build a recreational center and maintained a relatively primitive campground.

A market study done for the corps in 1999 showed potential for a full-scale recreational operation.




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