Lodge project at Beech Fork revisited

WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An idea to boost tourism that has been talked about for decades is getting another push.

Kayakers enjoy a warm September evening on the lake at Beech Fork in Wayne County, West Virginia.

West Virginia is again looking into building a lodge and conference center at Beech Fork State Park.

Some believe the picturesque setting in Wayne County has untapped potential.

"If we could get the lodge, I believe we could have a prime spot to really take advantage of a number of the outdoor activities in Wayne County," Wayne resident Pat Tooley said.

West Virginia state parks contracted a consulting firm to assess the feasibility of building a 75-room lodge and conference center there.

Thursday night, a public meeting on the project was held at Lavalette Elementary School.

"When you bring in a state park and they bring in the resources, what we do as a system to an area, it does bring in economic activity," Chief of Parks Sam England said.

A bond issue for the project was part of a bill in 2012, but the state's financial problems prevented the project from moving forward. It was expected to cost $35 million.

After that false start, some are optimistic the time is right for the lodge to finally become reality.

"To look at its feasibility helps us decide, is this the right direction to go and how can we make this possibly happen?" England said.

The consulting firm working on the project will be updating the Legislature in November.

They're inviting the public to weigh in with what additions could get them excited. You can find an online survey here.