By KATE SHUNNEY
The Morgan Messenger
BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — The Morgan County Planning Commission last Tuesday gave their approval to the West Virginia state park system to build a major addition to Cacapon State Park’s lodge.
Plans to expand guest rooms and meeting space at the park have been in the works for several years, and this was the second time local planners approved a commercial building permit for construction there.
Superintendent Scott Fortney and Assistant Superintendent Kelly Smith answered a number of questions for planning board members at the October 24 public hearing.
Board member Wayne Omps led a prolonged discussion about parking for the expanded lodge by asking if the number of spaces drawn by engineers could handle guest and conference vehicles.
A total of 214 parking spaces are designated for the finished lodge, which will have a total of 126 guest rooms. Construction plans also include building a new restaurant and tavern space, and adding conference meeting space in the lodge. An indoor/outdoor pool is also part of the plans.
Fortney said state park officials hope a contractor will break ground for the lodge expansion before 2018. He said park officials want work to be completed within two years.
Omps pointed out that the lodge will have 126 rooms, a restaurant that can seat 200 people and several conference rooms that will attract a lot of people to the park lodge. He said 214 parking spaces aren’t enough to accommodate park visitors to an expanded lodge and conference center.
Planners agreed to make their permit approval contingent on two things – that a parking area designated on construction plans would be a permanent parking lot with appropriate lighting, and that the park would build an all-weather lighted path between the lodge and overflow parking that serves the park’s golf course.
In 2013, state officials had selected a contractor to complete the expansion project but funding through excess lottery bonds fell through at the state level.
Those bonds are now currently for sale, and will pay for the estimated $23 million project.
Fortney talked a little about the planned changes to the lodge. He said the plan is to build the 78-room addition to the northern end of the lodge first, and then start renovation work in the original lodge section. The aim is to keep the lodge open throughout the project.
Renovation work could take original guest rooms and merge them to create larger rooms, said Fortney. The lodge’s front desk will also be moved into an atrium area near the current conference center entrance, he said.
Answering questions from planners about the planned pool, Fortney said it will be for lodge guests but that there might be a way to offer limited membership to local residents to use the pool, too. He said when the lodge rooms are filled, the pool will be at capacity for guests.
Fortney said interior construction plans are still being finalized.
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