Lakemont Park improvements fuel anticipation

Central Pennsylvania will lose a summertime friend this year, but with the promise that it will return in 2018, much more vibrant and family friendly.

That friend is Lakemont Park, which is targeted to remain closed this summer as its operator, the Lakemont Partnership, embarks on major upgrades and improvements.

For now, the only things standing in the way of that major initiative getting underway is a formal go-ahead vote by the county commissioners, as well as county court approval regarding a change to documents governing use of the park.

The ability to obtain those approvals doesn’t appear to be in doubt, nor should it be.

On Tuesday, county leaders’ comments were upbeat about the prospect of the regional asset not only getting some new facilities, but also a general face-lift encompassing landscaping and trees.

While some older rides will be removed, others will remain.

Some of the space that will become available as a result of rides’ removal will be used for new fun opportunities such as volleyball, basketball and bocce courts; an expanded picnic area; and a mini golf course.

According to an article in Wednesday’s Mirror, the intent is for the work to be far enough along by Nov. 17 to allow the annual Holiday Lights on the Lake show to begin.

That lights show will give thousands of people the opportunity to capture a glimpse of what the renovation project will have accomplished up to then, while whetting their appetite to enjoy the “New Lakemont Park” starting in late May next year.

But while the planned work holds great prospects for future summers, there’s an obvious temporary downside for this year beyond what the actual closing of the park will mean to many families from Blair and other area counties.

Beyond the park revenue that will be lost, other area entities will experience a financial hit as well.

That’s because many of the people who come to Lakemont Park also spend money elsewhere in the area during their travel to and from the park, or after having visited the park, before they start their trip home.

Besides the park, some of the other revenue losers will be shopping centers, places that sell gasoline and eateries.

Meanwhile, it’s plausible some tourist destinations such as the Horseshoe Curve and Fort Roberdeau might lose some tourist traffic, without the park being in operation.

Still, the negative economic impact that will be felt won’t be disastrous, and one reason is because of the close proximity of DelGrosso’s Amusement Park at Tipton.

Also, other area entities can further dilute the negative economic effects of Lakemont Park being closed by beefing up promotion of what they have to offer — reinforcing the fact that there still are many other things to see, do and enjoy here.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners were told that the changes to come should create the feeling of a traditional community park, as well as a family entertainment center — a facility that will be a source of great pride.

The park has long been viewed in that way by many people, but that positive image is destined to be enhanced.

This year’s loss will be the long-term future’s gain.

What will become available next year will be worth the wait.