Lakemont to remain closed this year

Park renovations were delayed due to death of partner

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Lakemont Park will remain closed for another summer so that delayed park improvements can go forward.

The Lakemont Partnership, which leases and operates the park on behalf of Blair County, acknowledged Tuesday that the proposed improvements didn’t go forward last year because of the illness and death of partner Donald Devorris.

But the Lakemont Partnership is willing to move forward this year, attorney Walter Wall told commissioners Tuesday on behalf of partner Ralph Albarano and Andrea Devorris Cohen, trustee of her father’s estate, who said she is supportive of everything proposed.

Renovations to begin in April include the addition of a mini golf course, new electric go-karts, batting cages and enhancements to the waterpark.

Plans also include the building of volleyball, basketball and bocce courts and an expanded picnic area.

The enhancements are part of what the Lakemont Partnership refers to as its effort to transform what was a conventional amusement park into a family entertainment location with some amusements.

“Our vision is to rejuvenate Lakemont Park and have it be a community centerpiece for connecting with family and friends,” Albarano said in a statement released Tuesday.

Plans call for free admission to the renovated park where patrons will have to purchase tickets for individual attractions and activities.

It remains the best plan and the most likely plan to preserve Lakemont Park for the future, Wall told commissioners.

In response to Wall’s presentation, commissioners agreed to amend the county’s lease with the partnership, a decision that will be subject to court approval. Based on a court ruling in the mid-1980s, the county is permitted to lease the park grounds as long as park and recreational use remain intact.

Before heading to court for approval on the lease amendment, Wall said the partnership wants to secure financing and has already submitted an application expected to be approved. Last year, the partnership secured court approval before the pursuit of financing which was affected by Devorris’ declining health.

“We couldn’t go forward legally at that time with the financing,” Wall said.

Commissioner Terry Tomassetti said he was disappointed with the partnership’s lack of communication with commissioners about the status of the project. Commissioners closed the park last year in anticipation of the project moving forward.

Wall responded to Tomassetti by offering an apology on behalf of the partnership, then a promise for this year.

“I’ll volunteer to keep the commissioners aware of what’s happening,” Wall said.

Commissioners also looked to solicitor Nathan Karn for an answer on what happens if the partnership fails to secure financing or fails to move forward this year.

If some unexpected hitch surfaces, Karn said, “then everybody would have to get their heads together and see where we go from here.”

Wall offered a reminder of his organization’s history with the county.

“For 29 years, the partnership has met every commitment they’ve made,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.