Newark Advocate: Perry County to get public access to Buckeye Lake

, Newark Advocate

THORN TOWNSHIP – A new park will soon give Perry County residents public access to Buckeye Lake.

The park, which will be located along Ohio 13 near Honey Creek Road in Thorn Township, will begin with construction of a canoe and kayak launch and parking lot in the southeast end of Buckeye Lake.

According to Mike Fornataro, Buckeye Lake Region Corporation director, the project is expected to go out for bid within eight weeks.

A design for the project shows a second phase of the project will include a public boat launch, trailer parking and lakeside promenade. The design indicates future phases could include private development, including a hotel, residential and retail properties.

“Perry County has never had public lake access and I think it’s a great thing that now the citizens of northern Perry County will have that ability to go out to the water and fish or launch their kayaks and eventually have even more of a park and an amenity,” Fornataro said.

Officials estimate after 20 years, the project could result in more than 95 new jobs, over $17 million in total revenue, $4.7 million in new property taxes, and a sales tax revenue of nearly $900,000 annually.

According to Thorn Township Trustee Bob Coleman, the park entrance, canoe/kayak launch, parking lot, and promenade will cost $500,000, which is funded by money the township received through Sen. Jay Hottinger in 2017.

Coleman said he thought Perry County needed the new park.

“Perry County is the only county of Buckeye Lake that has never had public access to the water,” he said, adding the project will promote tourism and economic development for the area and remainder of the county.

Fornataro said he thought the project would have a lasting impact on the Buckeye Lake region.

“I think the future of the lake is multiple amenities – not one big amenity that’s centralized – but amenities around the lake, whether they be around the village of Buckeye Lake or Millersport or Perry County,” he said. “I really think that’s more of what we’ll see is these sort of developments. I think it will lead to an economic impact that’s important for Perry County, this park in particular.”

Coleman said Thorn Township Trustees and Perry County officials are in the final stages of designing a safer traffic pattern at the intersection of Ohio 13, Honey Creek and Zion Roads.