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Mayor seeks funds to assess lodge idea



Published: Wed, June 22, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



He said a study is the first step to determining if the operation could succeed.

CORTLAND -- Mayor Curt Moll says he'll ask city council to contribute $5,000 to $10,000 toward a possible $100,000 study for a proposed state lodge on Mosquito Lake.

"Cortland is the one that is going to benefit," Moll said Tuesday. City council, he said, likely will support the effort.

"The whole idea is to determine if the financial model for the operation could be successful," the mayor said. "This would be a first step."

State Rep. Randy Law of Warren, R-64th, said the study effort is being backed by several state and local parties.

Discussion

Involved in the discussions have been Law, Moll, the Trumbull 100 group of civic and business leaders, the Trumbull County Planning Commission, Army Corps of Engineers, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Gov. Bob Taft's office, and the offices of U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, and Steven C. LaTourette of Madison, R-14th, and state Sen. Marc Dann of Liberty, D-32nd.

Some of these representatives heard a presentation two weeks ago by Tom Chema, Hiram College president and also president of Gateway Consultants Group Inc., at the Warren law office of William Letson.

Chema, a lawyer, is a former Lottery Commission executive director and ex-Ohio Public Utilities commission chairman. He's recognized as an expert on infrastructure planning and developing public/private partnerships. Gateway oversaw the public/private partnership that led to the financing and construction of Jacobs Field and Gund Arena in Cleveland.

Feasibility

"Our next step is trying to get money together for the feasibility study," Law said. "We want to patch together smaller amounts from different folks to show various amounts of interest in the project."

Law said he would also seek state-level funding to aid the study effort.

Moll and Law said a specific site for a possible lodge has not been determined. The study, they said, will tell officials where the best site would be.

Such a lodge development would considerably benefit the city's parks program, Moll said.

Cortland, however, cannot fund the estimated $100,000 study alone, he added.

The study would look at things such as lodging occupancy, the business climate and potential for business meetings, clientele, competition among existing lodges, access to water and sewer, and marketing.

Moll also said the lodge idea is something of a long shot.

"Getting the money is going to be tough. The state's not very encouraging and neither is the federal government, and the county's broke," he noted. "But I think we need to find out if it's worth doing."

Other lodges

A Mosquito Lake lodge would have to be different from the state's newest lodge in Geneva on Lake Erie, Moll said. It would have to fit this area's economy and the recreational desires of its people and guests.

"We have an opportunity to do something quite different from Geneva and Punderson [in Newbury]. It has to fit the clientele and the environment," the mayor noted.

The state lately has not been directly involved in the resort-building business.

The Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva is Ohio's ninth state park resort lodge. But it was constructed and is managed through a unique state/local partnership with Ashtabula County. It offers 109 guest rooms, a full-service restaurant and conference facilities.

Strategic plan

For many years, Cortland officials have proposed creation of a 120-acre park on the east side of Mosquito Lake. That property lies east of the lake shore to state Route 46, north of Lake Vista and across from Sunset Drive. The land is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Building a park on the land is part of Cortland's strategic plan.

Moll said he has suggested the lodge could be just north of that site on state land outside the city. Water and sewer are in the vicinity now, he noted. That could make the venture less expensive than putting it on the lake's west side, he said.

Mosquito Lake State Park, 1439 state Route 305, is in Bazetta and Mecca townships.

In the 1930s, plans were drawn up to dam the Mosquito Creek under the federal Flood Control Act to alleviate floods on the Mahoning, Beaver and Ohio rivers. Completed in April 1944, the dam's capacity is 34 billion gallons of water. The Army Corps of Engineers entered into an agreement with ODNR to manage the recreation on the lake.

The park has 2,483 land acres and 4,000 water acres. There are 5,370 nearby wildlife acres and 234 campsites, 218 of which have electrical hookups.

Unlimited horsepower boating is permitted on the 7,850-acre lake. Five launch ramps provide access to the lake. A 600-foot beach provides recreation for swimmers and sunbathers.




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