Kan. seeks proposals for Clinton Reservoir resort

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(WICHITA, Kan., AP) — Kansas officials hope to compete against the Ozarks for tourism dollars with a proposed resort and convention at Clinton State Park near Lawrence.
“I think there’s a market for it, some real opportunities,” said Steve Kelly, a Kansas Department of Commerce deputy secretary. “I think it could attract people to this region and retain some (area) people who have been leaving to go to places like Lake of the Ozarks or maybe Big Cedar Lodge down by Branson for business meetings or retreats.”
A state-requested feasibility study, which was completed in the spring by a resort consulting company, found that the park could support a resort with about 175 rooms, two restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, a pool-side bar and grill, spa, fitness center and 15,000 square feet of meeting space, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://is.gd/08nWfg ).
“I think something’s going to happen, I really do,” said Robin Jennison, head of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, adding that he’s expecting five or six developers to submit proposals later this month.
Jennison said the developer would pay construction costs and that the state would not own or operate the facility. He said it’s possible a management firm would lease the land from the state park and possibly pay additional money based on the resort’s income.
Kelly Ryan, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Kansas City district office, said the agency will need more details before it can approve a resort being built on federal land. The federal government built the lake and owns the land around it, some of which it leases to the state to use as a park.
But Ryan noted that the idea isn’t new; talk of a resort on a Kansas reservoir popped up several times in the 1990s, before Acorns Resort on Milford Reservoir was built. A feasibility study in 1997 showed Clinton was probably the prime candidate for a lodge and that the demand was probably there to make it succeed.
“The main problem back then was the logistics of utilities,” said Jennison, a proponent of a resort during his 1991-2000 tenure in the Kansas Legislature. “It just would have cost too much to bring water and electricity out from Lawrence at that time, but that’s changed. Lawrence has grown almost all the way to the dam at Clinton.”
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com