Support Development Backers of resort/marina proposal see economic value

By Kylie Hawn

Daily News Staff Writer

Residents and business owners from in and around the Trough Creek Valley area have voiced support of the proposed development of the Hawn’s Bridge Marina and Terrace Mountain Resort, including, from the left, Rick Walker, Laura Hicks and Scott Price. Those who support it believe it has the potential to bring a positive economic impact to the county, while still maintaining the pristine quality of Raystown Lake. Photo by KYLIE HAWNSupporters of the proposed development on Terrace Mountainand at the Hawn’s Peninsula section of Raystown Lake see the potential for economic growth while honoring the pristine environment the lake provides.
 
The proposed development includes a 440-acre section ofTerrace Mountain in Union Township, owned by developer Rod Roberts of Texas.
 

Laura Hicks, a resident of Cassville, is one resident who started a petition at Change.org to encourage area residents to speak out in support of the project.The plan also includes a 400-acre portion of the Hawn’s Peninsula section of Raystown Lake, controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where a marina with around 150 slips will be located as well as a nature center, a restaurant and camping areas.
 
She also created a Facebook group, Trough Creek Citizens, to encourage local residents, business owners, emergency personnel and other people invested in the community to share information and to create a dialogue about the project.
 
Right now, the Facebook group has approximately 83 people and the petition has garnered 143 signatures. The vast majority of those signatures are from residents of Huntingdon County or those who have direct ties to the county.
 
“We see an opportunity for this to positively impact the entire region,” said Hicks, noting this will positively impact the region with more jobs, economic growth and more recreation opportunities.
 
The overwhelming reason for the support of the marina from those who have signed the petition is because of the potential positive economic impact it could have on the county.
 
Fred Foster, a Todd Township resident and superintendent of the Huntingdon Area School District, elaborated further.
 
“I look at our students and there’s not a lot of opportunity for summer jobs,” said Foster. “I see people who graduate from college and have to go away from the area to find jobs. This proposal with the potential of long-term job growth is taking advantage of what we have, to an extent, and providing opportunities for residents to have sustainable jobs.”
 
Rick Walker, the owner of Top’s Diner on Route 22 in Henderson Township, understands that another restaurant on the proposed development site could bring competition, but this opportunity is much bigger than that.
 
“It’s for the future of our area,” said Walker. “The more people who come to the lake, the more businesses that could potentially come to surrounding areas.”
 
Hicks agreed.
 
“In this area, the small, family businesses are our bread and butter,” she said. “I could see other small businesses popping up, and people coming to the resort will find ways to get out and see other things we have to offer in the area.”
 
Scott Price, owner of Price Motor Sales and a resident of Cassville, said this is an opportunity to provide access to the western side of Raystown Lake.
 
“I’ve visited similar resorts (like the proposed development) and I see where they can sustain it all year long,” said Price. “(Tourists coming to a resort/marina) may not be visiting places like Price Motor Sales or Top’s Diner the first time they’re here, but they can always come back.”
 
Nancy MacNamara, a Todd Township resident, noted in the petition that it’s important to allow progress so the county doesn’t stay stagnant.
 
“We need economic growth in Huntingdon County,” said MacNamara. “This project has the potential to contribute to that end. We cannot stay together and expect to prosper or even maintain what we have now. The developer has shown his concern for building a project to compliment and preserve our area by bringing in experts in all aspects of planning.”
 
Amy Wise, executive director for Huntingdon County Business and Industry, said Roberts has hired a team of experts that include a marina expert, land planner and architect Daniel Woodroffe from DWG Partners of Austin, Texas, and resort developer and marketer Camilla Hardee of the marketing firm Hardee Partners LLC, Austin, Texas.
 
Those who oppose the proposed development have cited concerns with development at other lakes, likeDeep Creek Lake in Maryland, but Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau executive director Matt Price pointed out the land surrounding Deep Creek Lake is private land.
 
Additionally, if this development were to go through, 94 percent of the land surrounding the lake will remain undeveloped.
 
“Right now, under four percent of the 118 miles of shoreline at Raystown Lake is under lease,” said Price. “If this were to go through, six percent of the lake will be developed.”
 
Foster said the fact that the Corps controls the land surrounding the lake is a good thing, which means area residents can have a say in what is developed and what’s not.
 
“The Corps is the one with the pulse, but we can help regulate that,” said Foster. “If it was all private property, there would be no management. We can control and manage growth. We can have a balance of it being rural and not being over commercialized.”
 
Hicks said those who support the project also have concerns regarding safety, boat traffic on the lake, vehicle traffic to the lake and any environmental impacts, but she believes that people need to come together to address those concerns.
 
She noted in the petition that “if we do not work together to get officials to allow this project to move forward, we will not get the opportunity to get answers. We will not have our input in the opportunity and we will not be able to share our concerns or continue conservations about growth.”
 
Wise said the Corps has a provided a list of requirements for them to review a proposal regarding the potential development, but the opportunity to bid on a lease is not imminent.
 
Hicks also said she sees how Raystown Lake has had a positive impact on the economy of Huntingdon County, and a proposed resort and marina could have a similar impact on generations to come.
 
“It’s my generation’s turn to help future generations,” she said.
 
The Corps has officially released a website where people are encouraged to offer feedback on the proposed development. If anyone wants to review the website and offer feedback, go towww.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/DamsRecreation/ Raystown/ProposedDevelopment. aspx.
 
To review the petition in support of the proposed development, go to www.change.org/p/the-residents-and-visitorsof huntingdon-county-and-the-raystownregion that-value-opportunity-a-resolution to-support-and-educate-about-theterrace mountain-resort-and-marinaproject.