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State buys land on 2 islands



Published: Tue, September 5, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The two islands have very little development.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The state has purchased land on two Lake Erie islands with plans to include more marina space, campgrounds and tourist destinations for nature lovers.

North Bass and Middle Bass islands are now largely undeveloped, quiet places, much different from their neighbor South Bass, home to Put-in-Bay with its party atmosphere and one million visitors each year.

Over the last few years, the state has bought nearly all of North Bass and about 20 percent of Middle Bass, where the expansion of a state park marina is set to begin next year.

The project will increase the spots available to the public for docking boats from 48 to 150, said Phil Miller, a planning administrator with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The state also plans to expand its campgrounds on the island and build overnight cottages.

Middle Bass receives fresh water by ferry now, but plans call for new water and sewer systems that would allow for showers, toilets and laundry facilities.

Lonz Winery, which used to be the island's main attraction, may be reopened and renovated to include a restaurant, conference center and wine museum. The winery closed after a terrace collapse in July 2000 that killed one and injured 75.

Some residents

On North Bass, the state plans to take advantage of a lack of development to offer hunting, fishing, hiking, birding, primitive camping and nature study in several years. The island is home to 17 year-round residents and doesn't have any restaurants, shops, ferry service or a public marina.

"In North Bass, we have the last major relatively undeveloped island in Lake Erie, and certainly in Ohio," said Sam Speck, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Maggie Beckford, executive director of the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce, says she has heard some rumbling from residents about the state buying parts of the neighboring islands.

"But I can't see it as a bad thing," she said. "For us, the more attractions you have, the more people you draw."




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