Morrow County Chamber of Commerce members picnicked at the Mount Gilead Lakes State Park Tuesday and got an update on the progress of the dam construction and other park improvements.
Assistant Chief State Park and Watercraft Director, Steve Harvey gave a report on scheduled dam and lake construction, which he said is about 50 percent completed. The Mount Gilead park project is part of the $88.5 million secured by the legislature for improvements for Ohio State Parks.
Park Manager, Lora Weiser and Harvey said they already see growth in revenue and attendance at the park. In 2015 total revenue for the park was $61,000 and in 2016 $100,000. Camper hookups are up 172 percent. In 2015 there were 2,271 camp visits with 3,772 in 2016 for an increase of 1,501.
Some of the projects already completed include the rewiring, new roof and other improvements on the main pavilion of $93,000 and $400,000 for the campground shower house and restrooms. Full service campground facilities had been the biggest request from campers. Harvey added that the Mount Gilead park shower house has now become the model for other state park upgrades.
$7.4 million of state funds were designated for reconstruction of the dam and lakes. Harvey said that the project is on schedule to be completed by the end of the year. The new “Labyrinth” style dam will increase the amount of water that flows over the surface area. A model drawing of the new dam is on the ODNR website.
Weiser and the park staff have received questions about why trees were removed and a lot of soil taken off the north bank of the lake by the lower dam. Harvey said the soil was removed to get the clay and dirt to build up the new dam. They may use the north bank for a primitive camping area in the future.
Drilling went down 100 feet for rock anchoring for the new dam. Ditching the many years of sediment will be done with water dredging to eliminate some of the algae growth and deepen the lake before it is restocked with bass, bluegill and crappies. The dam and lake are scheduled to be finished before roads and trail improvements are completed. They also hope to add a paddle dock with canoes.
Harvey said he has visited many state parks. “Your Mount Gilead State Park has the most community involvement of any of the state parks I’ve seen.”
Harvey praised Chamber members and the community for the great participation in activities like the Country Breakfasts and Apple Butter Festival.
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