Corps has steps for lake acreage

By Kylie Hawn
Daily News Staff Writer

Before any plans for the proposed Hawn’s Bridge Marina and Terrace Mountain Resort can move forward, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will need to allow developers to lease the public lands about which so many local residents are concerned.

The portion of the 440 acres Rod Roberts of Texas wishes to develop includes the Hawn’s peninsula section of Raystown Lake, which would include a marina with 100- 120 boat slips, primitive camp sites, cabins, a restaurant and an environmental center.

Cynthia Mitchell, public affairs specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Baltimore District, explained the corps only formally met with Roberts once while he was in town March 22-23.
 
“At that time, Roberts provided us with a copy of his development’s conceptual plan, and we discussed the various requirements set forth by the Recreation Operations and Maintenance Policies Manual,” said Mitchell. “This process is very much in its infancy at this time.”

The Recreation Operations and Maintenance Policies Manual sets forth specific guidelines on development of any property that is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“This guidance establishes a consistent, nationwide policy that will be applied to evaluate requests for recreation development at corps water resources development projects, such as Raystown Lake,” said Mitchell.

“Some of the major requirements that are a part of this guidance would include review and potential updates to the Raystown Lake master plan, a market study to ensure there is a bona fide need for development, a feasibility study to ensure viability and required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation that includes public involvement,” she added.

Concerns about the project bringing in more traffic will be addressed as a market study needs to be performed before anyone submits a proposal for lease.

“The market study would include a recreational demand analysis, which includes public perception and opinion,” said Mitchell. “It also includes future projections — post development — and an inventory of similar types of recreation developments and their facilities within a 30-mile radius of the proposed development are also required.”
According to the Recreation Operations and Maintenance Policies Manual, a feasibility study includes “the input of capital to develop the facility’s maintenance cost, insurance, labor, the type and size level of the facility to demonstrate reasonable profit and the number of visitors needed and associated fee for services should also be addressed.”

Costs associated with both studies are paid for by the developer.

The Hawn’s peninsula area was taken off the master plan for Raystown Lake in 1994, according to Mitchell, because “a recreation demand analysis at that time did not support a recreational facility in that specific area.”

“In order for it to be added back on to the master plan, a market study would once again take place, and a recreation demand analysis would conclude that public demand would support a new development in the Hawn’s Bridge area,” she added.

Before the corps can issue any sort of outgrant to the developers of the resort and lodge, other steps need to be taken.

“The corps is required to provide priority to any existing outgrants who are interested and capable of developing like facilities within a reasonable time frame, unless corps’ headquarters grant approval for a waiver,” said Mitchell.

The developers also have to provide documentation on the exact environmental impacts the development would have on Hawn’s peninsula. This documentation will include public feedback, including the possibility of public hearings.

Mitchell said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has already received feedback for the proposed resort and marina through mail and social media.

“We are actively preparing for the recreation season, so we ask for your patience when attempting to speak to staff at Raystown Lake directly,” said Mitchell. “However, transparency is important to us, and the corps is currently in the process of creating a website dedicated specifically to the Hawn’s Bridge proposal, which is expected to be complete by May 1.

“It will include a comments section, which will be reviewed by both Raystown Lake staff and district level management, frequently asked questions and a thorough explanation of the recreational development guiding policy.”

Mitchell said the website will also be a venue where people can learn about “milestones in the review process.”

This is the largest development proposal the corps has seen on Raystown Lake, according to Mitchell. The two largest leases at present are with Seven Points Marina and Lake Raystown Resort, Lodge & Conference Center.

“We also have Branch Camp, a smaller campground, and The Lighthouse food stand.”

The Upper Corners region of Raystown Lake, near Seven Points, is currently on the master plan for development, according to documents provided by Huntingdon County Business and Industry (HCBI).

While nothing is being proposed at this time, the vision for this particular section was to “establish a yearround sophisticated rustic lodge and cabin network to accommodate individuals and groups seeking a destination for water and outdoor recreation activities in a scenic and relaxing environment.”

No plans are in the works to change this current designation, according to Mitchell, until a change is made in the master plan.

Those who want to submit comments, questions and concerns about the proposed resort and marina project are encouraged to send an email to CENAB-CC@usace.army.mil.

Kylie can be reached at khawn@huntingdondailynews.com.