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Amendment of Atwood Lodge Donation Agreement Proposed

June 30, 2016
Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District

NEW PHILADELPHIA, OH - Over the past several weeks officials from both Carroll County and the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) have been meeting to review the terms and conditions of what is known as the Donation Agreement of the Atwood Lodge. By the donation agreement, which was effective in January of 2012, the Commissioners agreed to adhere to certain terms such as sustaining operations of the golf courses and investing income from leasing of the mineral rights of the property into capital improvements or operation of the Lodge.

This donation agreement was formulated by MWCD to grant the Atwood Lodge, surrounding 500 acres, and the mineral rights to the Carroll County Commissioners in response to the public outcry to keep the lodge open after 47 years of operation under MWCD ownership.

After more than four years of operating the Lodge, the Carroll County Commissioners recognized what MWCD had experienced, which is the operation of the Lodge is not a self-sustaining venture and had to be subsidized to the detriment of other, more beneficial operations. Continued operations of the resort would deplete the significant signing bonuses realized through leasing the mineral rights which were negotiated by the Carroll County Commissioners. Today there is approximately $1.3 million in the Atwood Lodge mineral rights fund which is not sufficient to re-open the 18-hole golf course, cover the necessary major capital improvements needed on the lodge and continue to cover operational losses. As responsible stewards, the Commissioners have come to the conclusion it is time to make an exit from running an unsustainable resort business.

Article Photos

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) and Carroll County Commissioners have updated the terms and conditions of the Donation Agreement of the Atwood Lodge. Shown is MWCD Executive Director John Hoopingarner during a media day held last year at Atwood Lake. Photo by Larry Claypool/OVO

Legal counsel from the Carroll County Commissioners approached MWCD to consider amending the terms of the Donation Agreement. With the authority of the Board of Directors, MWCD Executive Director, John Hoopingarner, and MWCD Legal Counsel, Jim Pringle, have worked with the Carroll County Commissioners' legal representative, Sean Smith, to negotiate a proposal for an amendment to the Donation Agreement.

This amended agreement allows the Commissioners to move forward with selling the lodge, responds to public sentiment about the lodge by allowing private enterprise the opportunity to create a business using the lodge facility and advances the conservation mission of MWCD by addressing a water quality improvement project within the watershed boundaries of the District.

Highlights of the proposed Amendment of the Donation Agreement include:

All mineral rights covering the original 500 acres in the donation agreement will be transferred back to MWCD.

The County will return and transfer approximately 425.5 acres of the original 500 acres to MWCD.

The County will sell at public auction approximately 74.5 acres which includes the Lodge buildings and equipment, par 3 golf course, driving range and parking lots. The County will keep the proceeds from this sale.

MWCD will work with the purchaser of the 74.5 acres to make arrangements for water supply to the Lodge property subject to certain terms and conditions consistent with Ohio EPA regulations.

The Atwood Lodge mineral rights fund will be transferred to MWCD and will be audited. MWCD will encumber these funds to be used as a grant to Carroll County's Route 43 Corridor Water and Sewer Project subject to certain terms and conditions.

John Hoopingarner commented, "We see this amended agreement as not only a positive solution for MWCD and the Carroll County Commissioners, but also for the community, who will benefit from the possible repurposing of the Atwood Lodge. In addition, proceeds from the Atwood Lodge mineral rights fund will be reinvested in a water quality project in the District which advances the conservation mission of MWCD and will enable economic development in Carroll County."

The Carroll County Commissioners unanimously approved the Amended Donation Agreement at Thursday's regularly scheduled meeting. The MWCD Board of Directors authorized Mr. Hoopingarner to negotiate and execute an amended agreement. The MWCD Board is expected to ratify the Amended Donation Agreement at their July 22 regularly scheduled board meeting.



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