GLOUSTER — Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center will be renovated and reopened, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Jim Zehringer announced today. ODNR will also seek public input on plans to develop Burr Oak State Park into a regional destination location. In January, the lodge and conference center was closed due to sparse use and poor facility conditions.
U.S. Hotels, a national hospitality and leisure company, will operate the lodge and conference center on a short-term management service contract. In addition, this agreement will create the framework and resources necessary to allow for renovations to the lodge and cottages, providing long-term sustainability. The facility is expected to reopen as soon as September.
“We were at a crossroads earlier this year,” said Zehringer. “We could have torn down this ailing lodge, at a $2 million expense. Instead, we opted to work with state and local leaders to revitalize this once great facility and make it viable again. Our partnership with U.S. Hotels is an important step in that direction.”
Pending Ohio Controlling Board approval, ODNR will redirect the $2 million needed to tear down the structure toward capital improvements, such as beginning electrical repairs and renovations to lodge rooms, common areas and cabins.
“Burr Oak State Park was established as a state park in 1952, and the lodge was dedicated 45 years ago in April 1967,” said Zehringer. “We are committed to making Burr Oak viable once again.”
ODNR is seeking feedback from the local community on a business model to ensure Burr Oak’s success. A public discussion will be held at the lodge on Thursday, Aug. 16 from 5-7 p.m. All individuals are invited to attend with their ideas.
Prior to closing, the Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center employed 45 full-time equivalent employees. The lodge was the second-largest employer in Morgan County. Burr Oak State Park covers Athens, Morgan and Perry counties.