2018-12-01 / Front Page

‘Vendor forum’ hopes to attract Denton Hill partner


LaBella Associates spelled out particulars of its master plan during a public meeting at the Denton Hill State Park ski lodge. DCNR will host a conference for prospective private operating partners back at the lodge on Dec. 14. LaBella Associates spelled out particulars of its master plan during a public meeting at the Denton Hill State Park ski lodge. DCNR will host a conference for prospective private operating partners back at the lodge on Dec. 14. State officials will be holding a “vendor forum” at Denton Hill State Park on Dec. 14, hoping to attract an operator to partner in developing a four-season attraction.

Finding a vendor is no sure thing, according to the Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). If a deal cannot be struck, the year-round plan may be taken off the table.

A fifth winter will come and go with no skiing at the park and chances are slim that the slopes will be open next winter.

DCNR has been referring to the plan as the “Denton Hill Adventure Center.” Contractor LaBella Associates has developed a master plan that focuses on improvements, redesign and new infrastructure for skiing; overnight accommodations; year-round recreation development; and community partnerships.

About $12 million in state funds were approved for park improvements back in 2013, but the master plan forecasts that costs will exceed $18 million. Decisions on specific investments and attractions at the park will be based in large part by the private operator’s business plan. LaBella’s master plan includes replacing the two chair lifts with a single, larger chair lift. It would be complemented by smaller poma lifts. A lift would also be built for the snow tubing area, which would be expanded.

A multi-million-dollar snowmaking system would be installed and lighting for night skiing would be improved and expanded. Plans also call for the lodge to be rehabilitated and park- ing expanded. Among options being explored for the spring through fall seasons are an aerial canopy course, zip lines, mountain bike flow trails, ropes and obstacle courses, a hiking and multi-use trail hub, and a designated area for festivals.

Denton Hill State Park was opened as a ski area in 1958 and was operated by the state until 1983, when DCNR signed a 35-year concession lease agreement with Denton Hill Family and Ski Resort Inc. The concessionaire notified DCNR just before the 2014-15 ski season that it was backing out.

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