Saturday, July 21, 2001

State park planned for Middle Bass

Site of deadly terrace collapse to be developed

The Associated Press

        MIDDLE BASS ISLAND, Ohio — A new state park planned at the site where a winery terrace collapsed last summer will include a renovated and expanded marina and new camp sites, according to plans announced Friday.

        Gov. Bob Taft and Sam Speck, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources toured the site on Middle Bass Island and released tentative details of the plan to develop the 73rd state park.

        Efforts to create the park date to May 2000, when the state said it was buying 123 acres on the southern tip of the 758-acre island from Middle Bass Development Corp. and Matey-Mon Ami-Lonz Wineries Corp. for $6.75 million.

        The buildings on the site have been closed since July 1, 2000, when a terrace collapsed at the former Lonz Winery, killing a man and injuring 75.

        Mr. Speck said he wants to keep the structure intact — possibly as a restaurant, banquet hall and gift shop. He said the building, which still has wine making equipment from the 1800s, has potential as a small convention facility.

        “Clearly, we won't be returning it to the uses it has had in the past,” Mr. Speck said.

        Department spokeswoman Jane Beathard said engineers were pleasantly surprised to see that much of the winery was in good condition.

        “We did determine that the building was sound,” she said.

        Besides the winery, the site includes nearly a mile of undeveloped shoreline, a marina, and a wetland area with several endangered or threatened species and unique geological features known as glacial grooves.

        The plans also call for:

        • Expanding and renovating a ferry dock on the south shoreline and the nearby marina where boaters will be directed when they enter the area.

        • Building camp sites and 20 to 30 vacation cottages.

        • Developing a natural beach, picnic shelter, biking and hiking trails, fishing pier and playground.

        The work is expected to take several years.

        The state has scheduled public presentations of the plan in Ottawa County from Saturday through Wednesday. The final plan should be released by the end of the year.

        For now, the island is open to the public, and boaters can use a recently expanded docking area that now can handle about 250 boats.


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