2015-10-24 / News

Ski park’s future to be unveiled


Consultant Cherie Moshier (right), a principal from Moshier Studio, takes notes during a recent preview of that firm’s plans for resurrecting the ski area at Denton Hill State Park. Among those viewing the maps and other exhibits was Mike Knefley (center), who formerly operated the resort in partnership with the Pa. Bureau of State Parks. Consultant Cherie Moshier (right), a principal from Moshier Studio, takes notes during a recent preview of that firm’s plans for resurrecting the ski area at Denton Hill State Park. Among those viewing the maps and other exhibits was Mike Knefley (center), who formerly operated the resort in partnership with the Pa. Bureau of State Parks. Plans for the future of Denton Hill State Park will be unveiled by the Pa. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) during a public meeting in mid-November. Details will be announced.

Findings of the study by consultant Moshier Studio of Pittsburgh will be reviewed and the public will be able to comment.

DCNR has been tight-lipped about the 700-acre park’s future as the uncertainties swirl and concern grows. Some initial findings by the Mosher team and its subcontractor were not optimistic.

Skiing for the 2015-16 season has been all but ruled out and the prospects of a full-service ski resort returning in the near future appear to be dim, due to the price tag of infrastructure improvements and doubts about attracting a vendor to operate it.

DCNR directed Moshier to study prospects for converting the park into an all-season attraction tied in with area businesses and other tourist destinations.

That matches a strategy spelled out by Potter County Commissioner Doug Morley at a recent meeting of that board.

He said county officials have been encouraging DCNR to pursue plans for “a three-park destination -- Cherry Springs, Lyman Run and Denton Hill.”

During a preliminary meeting on the study, Moshier and its partners reported the following:

• DCNR would need to invest more than $12 million to refurbish or replace equipment to accommodate skiing. Snowmaking equipment, lodge repairs, lighting improvements and upgrading of lifts and other equipment are among the costlier items. These projects and others would likely take a minimum of three years.

• Reports filed 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 (the ski area was closed for 2014-15). There was a corresponding decrease in gross revenue, according to concessionaire’s figures. At the same time, fewer Americans -- only about 3 percent of the population -- are skiers.

• Other challenges include competition from the opening and growth of other skiing facilities closer to population centers, and the availability of other attractions as an alternative to Denton Hill during the spring through fall seasons.

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