The Cacapon Resort State Park may finally get its chance to carry out long-awaited improvements.
In its monthly board of directors meeting Thursday, the state Economic Development Authority approved a resolution to issue excess lottery revenue bonds worth up to $25 million to the 6,000-acre park.
Funding for Cacapon through the bonds was at risk during the legislative session. Senate Bill 535, a bill reorganizing the state Division of Tourism, received an amendment by Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, that would have cut funding for Berkeley Springs’ Cacapon and Beech Fork State Park, located in Barboursville, if the bonds weren’t sold by Jan. 1, 2018.
Funding for the parks originally was approved by legislators in 2012, but the decline of lottery revenue meant the bonds never went to market.
However, the bill received another amendment near the end of the session to remove the risk to funding. It currently awaits Gov. Jim Justice’s signature.
Sam England, chief of West Virginia State Parks, said the hotel industry’s “standards of hospitality” have changed since many of Cacapon’s lodges and cabins were built in the 1950s.
With the bond, Cacapon will be able to fund various improvements, England said. These may include: the creation of new lodge guest rooms, relocating the lodge kitchen and dining area, adding a spa and possibly a new pro shop, various renovations and infrastructure improvements.
England said he expects the new additions to bring in around $3 million in revenue for the park and help attract people from the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas.
“When we build it, it will be a premier product that we can show to businesses and families,” he said.
The board also did not approve another loan application from America’s Best Block. The recently formed company in Mineral County had a $3.6 million loan application tabled last year. EDA Executive Director David Warner said at the time that there wasn’t enough information on the company’s plans and product to approve the loan.
Warner declined to discuss why the proposed loan was not passed Thursday, but said the company will have another opportunity to apply.
The board also gave final approval for a $2.25 million loan to the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle. It will renovate a machine shop once owned by ArcelorMittal Steel, and then lease the building to Bidell Gas Compression, a company that will sell, lease and service natural gas compression equipment in the shop.