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CLARK, PA. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considers lake plan



Published: Sun, February 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

CLARK, Pa. -- A Volant man could find out this week if his proposed recreation project fits in with the plans of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Shenango River Lake.

Mark Kasiorek's plan is the only one on the table at this point as the corps tries to find a developer for the former Shenango Valley YMCA campground on the southern shore of the man-made lake.

Kasiorek, who said he has boated and camped at Shenango and other western Pennsylvania lakes for years, is self-employed in the amusement game industry.

Proposal: He's proposing a combination "full hookup" campground combined with cabins on the 43-acre site just east of the state Route 18 causeway.

Bill Wilson, corps realty specialist, said Kasiorek will get a chance to pitch his plan to the corps Thursday.

Details of the proposal will be released later if it is accepted, he said.

If it doesn't work out, Wilson said the corps might go with a plan offered by The Gateway Group of Cleveland, which helped develop Jacobs Field and other sports sites.

Gateway has offered to be an intermediary, seeking out developers for the corps, Wilson said.

Previous lease: The YMCA maintained its Camp Shenango at the site for 30 years, but the corps refused to renew the agency's lease in 2000.

The corps wanted to see the land developed as a full recreational facility with overnight lodging and sports programs beyond just water-related activities. The YMCA was never able to do more than open a primitive campground and some outdoor sports fields.

The corps would have liked to see a lodge capable of housing up to 100 people built on the lake shore, but right now it's willing to look at any recreation-related project, Wilson said.

Previous searches: That's because two earlier attempts to attract developers to the site came up empty.

Not a single development plan surfaced in the first round of advertising the site in 2000, and only one proposal was made in a 2001 round that featured a broader advertising campaign.

The corps thought it had that package lined up until the intended developer suddenly pulled out last fall, citing a financial inability to handle the project, Wilson said.

However, publicity about the effort to develop the parcel prompted unsolicited responses from Kasiorek and The Gateway Group, Wilson said.

He said the corps contacted the 21 prospective developers who had received development packets for the site to find out why they didn't offer any projects.

Reasons: Some said the corps' paperwork was too cumbersome for their small operations; others said they were reluctant to put money into improvements on land they can't own.

The corps won't sell the site but is willing to grant a 25-year lease with possible extensions totaling up to 25 additional years.

Kasiorek said not being able to own the land isn't a problem for him.

Wilson said the corps could decide to revamp its development package to make it easier for small companies to get involved if Kasiorek's proposal isn't acceptable.

That could put development efforts back a great deal, he said, noting that changing program requirements would need the approval of both the corps division and national offices.




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