US Army Corps sets planning meetings for Raystown Lake

Texas developer wants to build $89 million resort-like lodge and marina

Pending revisions to a master plan governing development along Huntingdon County’s Raystown Lake are to be discussed later this month at a pair of public meetings, officials at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today.

The meetings have the potential to become contentious, as the revisions are being considered at a time when a Texas developer has plans to construct an $89 million resort-like lodge and marina on a portion of the lake.

The meetings are scheduled for the evenings of April 25 and 26. Both supporters and opponents of the development have expressed intentions to attend.

“Comments and input from the public are extremely important and beneficial to the Corps while we work to revise Raystown Lake’s master plan,” Col. Ed Chamber­layne, Baltimore District commander, said in a statement.

The April 25 meeting is set for

6 p.m. in Tussey Mountain High School’s auditorium at 199 Front St., Saxton.

The April 26 meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Huntingdon Area High School’s auditorium at 2400 Cassady Ave., Huntingdon.

The public meetings are to be “organized in identical styles,” with officials offering a presentation about the master plan process, the Corps announcement stated.

“After the presentation, attendees will be divided into small discussion groups in order to generate ideas and to allow the public to tell the Corps their thoughts and opinions about the future of Raystown Lake,” the announcement reads.

The Army Corps of Engineers manages the 8,300-acre, 30-mile Raystown Lake area, and development in that space is regulated by an existing master plan. The plan was last updated in 1994.

Last month, the Corps’ Raystown operations manager, Nicholas Krupa, said the average lifespan of a master plan is 15 to 25 years.

That means Raystown “was about ready for a revision anyway.”

Project spurs interest

But the revision comes at a time when Texas-based Lancer Resources LP, headed by Rod Roberts, has purposed a large-scale resort to be constructed atop private land on Terrace Mountain.

The Terrace Mountain Lodge was described as similar to the Omni Bedford Springs Resort by Janet Chambers of Beacon Marketing Solutions, which is working with Lancer locally.

The lodge would include 220 hotel rooms, a “high-end” restaurant and bar, as well as a spa, a wedding chapel, meeting rooms and an indoor pool.

In addition to construction on private land, Lancer officials have proposed to build a marina on Hawn’s Bridge Peninsula with room for 150 boats.

The marina would be constructed on Corps of Engineers land, and, last year, the project was declined because it did not meet development guidelines stipulated in the existing master plan.

Now, local environmental activists and recreation enthusiasts fear revisions to the plan will allow the resort and marina’s construction, which they claim could lead to the destruction of wildlife habitats and picturesque hiking trails.

Among them is George Conrad, a local outdoorsman, who also heads the Coalition to Protect Hawn’s Peninsula, a group that opposes development.

On Wednesday, Conrad said members of his group are likely to attend both upcoming meetings.

“We’re going to put out feelers for people to attend,” he said, adding he was to speak with members of Juniata College’s Environ­mental Coalition later that day. “We intend to make our voices heard.”

Juniata will have role

The Corps of Engineers’ meetings announcement comes only two days after a separate announcement from Juniata College officials, who have “agreed to be involved in the environmental oversight of the (resort and marina) when site development begins.”

Chuck Yohn, director of the college’s Raystown field station, is to lead that collaboration.

“We look forward to assisting with the environmental oversight of the proposed Hawn’s Bridge Recreation Area and Terrace Mountain Lodge,” said Yohn in a statement. “We recognize the great economic and recreation opportunities the project brings to this community, and, specifically, we are excited about the prospect of partnering on the creation and operation of the nature center proposed in the plan.”

Roberts, the developer, also offered a statement about the partnership.

“We want to do everything possible to safeguard the environment when our project moves forward,” he said. “The college’s extensive knowledge of plants, animals and all natural life found around and in Raystown Lake will be invaluable to our development team as we work with landscape planners and architects.”

At the late April meetings, those in attendance will be able to submit written questions and comments that will be collected and answered by Corps of Engineers staff, according to the announcement.

“While all attendees will have a chance to make their comments part of the record, there will not be opportunities for individuals to address the entire audience,” it reads.

April’s public meetings are to be the first of four, with the others to be scheduled sometime in August, corps officials said.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.