SHENANGO LAKE Agency renews camp effort

A request for development proposals a year ago netted no responses.
CLARK, Pa. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says there are people interested in developing the former YMCA campground on Shenango River Lake as a recreational facility.
The corps is making another effort to find someone able to do that after a failed attempt at attracting a developer last year.
"We're open to suggestions," said Nancy Mullen, realty specialist with the corps' real estate division in Pittsburgh.
She said the corps relaxed its development criteria after no one bid on the 43-acre site on the southern side of the lake in June 2000. The agency was definitely looking for a lodge-type project that could offer a variety of sports such as basketball and tennis as well as take advantage of recreation available on the lake.
What happened: Eight regional potential bidders expressed an interest in the site but when it came time to submit proposals, not one of them did, Mullen said.
The corps won't sell the land, and Mullen acknowledged that may have been a factor in dampening the interest of some developers last year. Some people didn't want to spend money on property they can never own, she said.
The agency advertised the site on a regional basis last time, concentrating on Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia. It launched a wider campaign this year, going national with its advertisements.
There have been expressions of interest both locally and on a broader scale, Mullen said, noting some potential developers from Cleveland and New Jersey are expected to visit the site.
The corps did have a site visit May 9 but only three potential developers were represented. All were local people who have used the lake for recreation,, she said.
Others have said they will visit the site on their own, she added.
Push for cabins: The corps still wants a development that offers overnight accommodations and has suggested that cabins might be a good idea.
"Cabins are a hot commodity in Pennsylvania right now," Mullen said, noting that rental cabins at state parks at Moraine and Pymatuning are in strong demand.
Both of the lakes in those parks have 10-horsepower motor limits whereas Shenango allows unlimited horsepower which could attract a whole different clientele, she said.
The corps is looking to lease the site for 25 years initially and would be willing to extend that for another 25 years in multiple-year increments, Mullen said.
"I'm optimistic. It seems like there's a lot of interest," she said.
The site was Camp Shenango, the Shenango Valley YMCA's campground, for 30 years until the corps refused to renew the YMCA's lease last year.
The agency said the YMCA had failed to develop the land into a full recreational facility as required.
The YMCA said it never had the money to do that and maintained a relatively primitive campground.
A market study done in late 1999 showed the potential for a full-scale recreational operation that, in addition to using the lake, could offer other sports and overnight lodging.
The corps is asking for development proposals to be submitted by July 27 and could award a contract in September, Mullen said.

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