Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saving Atwood Lake Resort

The relatively small number of people who offer comments at the bottom of posted stories on a certain newspaper's Web site are as predictable as Ohio weather in February.

One guy ends most of his comments with "How do you like change so far?"

Gimme a break.

He's part of the same group of people who are willing to affix blame for any or all of our woes to any sitting body of government or political party.

On the hot seat currently is the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, which is looking for a buyer or some other solution to its red-ink-stained Atwood Lake Resort and Conference Center.

The comments offered by John Q. and/or Sally K. Citizen make one wonder if these people actually have any friends who want to be around them. My God, they are negative.

Here's the deal with the resort and it's simple really: Times have changed.

That's it, over and out.

It's kind of like the old Richfield Coliseum that was constructed in the '70s and was gone before the end of the century after the Cleveland Cavaliers were coaxed back downtown.

The coliseum, halfway between Cleveland and Akron, seemed like a good idea at the time. Apparently no one considered that it was in the middle of the secondary snow belt and that most NBA games are played when the weather is lousy. And when it was vacated, no one wanted it.

In 2009, the occupancy rate at Atwood was a hair more than 30 percent. That's horrible and it means that from Labor Day to Memorial Day the place is virtually empty.

It loses thousands of dollars every year.

What happened?

We've changed, i.e. people who take vacations have changed, companies that needed a place to meet have changed and brides who are looking for reception halls have changed.

Meanwhile, Atwood Lake Resort, except for some room upgrades, has pretty much stayed the same.

And it's not the fault of the MWCD board of directors, which has studied the numbers and concluded that it is time to change course.

Atwood competes with a number of similar properties at our Ohio state parks. Their occupancy rate in 2008 was 45 percent, which is a little better but not much. And all of them need taxpayer money to survive.

The resort hotels at our state parks and at Atwood were popular once upon a time. And like so many other places and things that we took for granted, now they are not. They are money pits. Public money pits. Taxpayer money pits.

Nothing is forever. And like it or not, change is constant. Ask the folks in Las Vegas.

The Sahara, the Sands, the Desert Inn -- all gone to wrecking balls everyone. And in their place, something newer and better.

I hope the MWCD can find a buyer with deep pockets. That's what it will take to save or reinvent the place.

Wait a minute. There's an idea -- Atwood Lake Casino and Wedding Chapel!

OK, I'm kidding. Relax.


R. Everett said...


Just to confirm for your readers how the change of times and the habits of tourists really does exist. Being 80 miles northeast of Vegas for the past four years, I have seen a drastic change since 2006.

When I first arrived in Mesquite, Nevada late May of 2006, the economy here was flourshing, there were six other police officers hired after I was and every other day seemed like Christmas here. We were issued equipment, cars, anything and everything we needed to perform the job.

Unfortunately, the soured economy has taken a toll; sales and hotel tax receipts in Mesquite and Clark County are way down. The State of Nevada is facing an $850 million dollar deficit by the end of this fiscal year. Our city has laid off several employees, budgets have been sliced and the "icing on the cake" is a thing of the past. We even had one casino in our community shut down.

Believe me, you are correct when you say times have changed. If tourists have changed their habit of visiting Vegas and all it has to offer, certainly Atwood Resort couldn't even begin to keep up. Vegas will come back as the economy comes back, but I'm not so sure about Atwood Resort.

I must agree with your thoughts on Atwood Resort, it's just a little harder to swallow the demise of Atwood Resort since it's in your own backyard.

RockHammer said...

You might be kidding about turning Atwood Resort into a casino, but it is not an entirely bad idea. Too bad there aren't better roads to get out there.

biggdbo said...

They have the Alive music festival coming in ... the guy who runs that does a great job. Of course that's not enough in itself, but it could be the start of something. You never know.