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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Denton Hill State Park Stakeholders Optimistic

Supporters of Denton Hill State Park, led by the Potter County Commissioners, were optimistic following last week’s public meeting on the park’s future. Stakeholders Group members have pulled out all the stops in their push to have the park revitalized and its ski resort resurrected. They’ve been using personal appeals to politicians, a marketing and public relations campaign heavily reliant on social media, and other tools. The commissioners initially met with State Senator Joe Scarnati, a leading advocate for Denton Hill State Park, and then assembled the Stakeholders Group to galvanize support. One of the coalition partners, the Potter County Visitors Assn. (PCVA), launched a Save Denton Hill State Park site on the Facebook social media platform and has signed up 2,000 supporters, with tens of thousands of “hits.” PCVA is also soliciting support for the park on its own website, visitpottercounty.com, and through personal appeals. Among other coalition members are the Chambers of Commerce in Coudersport, Galeton and Wellsboro and the Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance. They’re conferring frequently with elected officials and representatives of the Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (both State Parks and Forestry bureaus).
closedThere is a lot at stake. A recent study of the ski resort’s impact found that visitors spent more than $2.74 million on their trips in a single year. Stakeholders see the park in bigger terms, suggesting that it be a hub for tourists that could complement local hiking trails, Cherry Springs and Lyman Run state parks, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum and other local attractions. The partners would like to see not only restoration of ski operations, but development of the park as a year-round asset. Last week’s meeting focused on the initial findings by Moshier Studio, a Pittsburgh firm that was hired to study Denton Hill State Park and assess issues such as refurbishing the ski area and expanding the park’s operations to an all-season schedule. Among the findings:
  • DCNR will need to invest about $12.5 million to accommodate skiing. Snowmaking equipment, lodge repairs, parking and upgrading of lifts and other equipment are among the costlier items. These projects and others would likely take a minimum of three years. (Two ski seasons have already been lost.)
  • Statistics reported by the most recent concessionaire operating the ski area show that, from a skier turnout of 13,150 in 2007, the business declined each successive year to approximately 7,000 skiers for the 2013-14 season. About 10,000 skiers would be needed to reach a financial break-even point.