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DNR plans to use third party concessionaire to run new state park

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources plans to hire a third party concessionaire to handle financing, development, construction, and operation of the new Summersville Lake State Park. However, what will be included in the operation is still very much up in the air according to DNR Director Brett McMillion.

“We want to base that on some public comment to see what the desire for the local area is. That’s a unique area we have acquired and I believe there will be a lot more different areas available based on outdoor recreation,” said McMillion.

The input starts with a Tuesday night public meeting at the Summersville Convention Center. The agency wants to hear from the public as well as make the required announcement of plans to operate the facility with a concessionaire.

It’s not the first time the DNR has entered such contracts. McMillion said the current arrangement with the concessionaire at Canaan Valley Resort would be the best comparison, but even that isn’t an exact likeness to what is envisioned at the Summersville Lake facility.

“We don’t have anything like this as a whole, but we have several pieces like restaurants, horse stables, zip lines, splash parks, and splash lakes. We have a variety of concessionaire operations already in place, this will be just a little bigger scope,” he explained.

The input from the public will be critical to the unique amenities which will be developed. Prior to purchase by the state, the area was a big draw for rock climbers and it’s anticipated it will continue to be part of the development. Generally McMillion said they know for certain overnight camping and lodging accommodations are amenities they will want, but the rest of the park, for now, is a blank slate.

The state announced the purchase of the property earlier this year. Although it’s a sizeable tract of land around Summersville Lake, it does NOT include shoreline property. All of the shoreline is under the control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“There’s a Corps boundary around the entire lake, it is a relatively small boundary, but it does not put us to water’s edge,” he said.

Therefore any potential development of the lake front acreage would have to involve an added layer of agreement and cooperation with the Corps of Engineers. McMillion said while that isn’t out of the question for future years, it isn’t part ot he current plan for park and recreational development.

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