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Hang on for the ride, Middle Bass!

See the response to this article that was sent to us by ODNR on March 23, 2006 and published the same day

Article from the Put-in-Bay Gazette, March, 2006. Reprinted with Permission on March 10, 2006

Also see the Middle Bass Discussion Board thread about this article

If you live or have a cottage on Middle Bass Island, hang on for the ride! What ride you ask? It's the ride the State of Ohio has planned for Middle Bass at its state park there.

To investigate the potential to further enrich the experience of visitors and create a self-sustaining park, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources hired the consultant team of Woolpert LLP, Leon Younger & PROS and Economic Research Associates to explore the feasibility of developing, determining the nature of and the demand for hotel, restaurant, and commercial retail outlets at the Middle Bass Island State Park. Their recommendations were published in a report dated June, 2004, which recently was brought to the attention of the Gazette.

The results of the study will surprise those who have homes on the island directly to the north of Put-in-Bay. Here are some of the projections gleaned from the study.

After building one or two hotels, restaurants, camping sites, rental cottages, retail shops and marina, total visitation to the park on the island is projected to be 280,000 visitors per year. To put this in perspective, Put-in-Bay hovers around 700,000 visitors per year. Some 24,000 people will

camp there each season, and another 12,000 will stay in hotel accommodations priced between $160 to $195 per night. Along with filling the hotels with vacationers, there was considerable emphasis in the study placed on conventions, banquets, company meetings and weddings. The proposed wedding pavilion for one or two weddings a week would seat between 35 and 150.

To keep the stomachs of hungry visitors full, there are several eating establishments planned. The pizza parlor alone is projected to have 50 seats and serve 250 meals per day. Visitors will also be kept busy with shopping in the retail outlets projected to sell gifts, apparel, pottery, glass, antiques, sporting goods, jewelry and children's toys among other things. The study says the projected 7,000 square feet of retail space will be rented by private operators for $14 to $16 per square foot per season, a figure some small retailers are finding hard to afford in the much more lucrative Put-in-Bay market.

The marina with its 300-plus boat slips should draw a considerable number of boaters and visitors, but the study's projections for yearly dockage income for just the 200 transient slips alone is more than the annual total of the DeRivera Park dock and both village docks in downtown Put-in-Bay. That's fairly optimistic thinking considering the popularity of Put-in-Bay versus Middle Bass. It is also projected some $182,000 to $210,000 in boat fuel and oil will be sold at the Middle Bass Marina.

Among the issues not extensively addressed in the study was labor to run the park. The report simply states, “The search for labor will be a real challenge far both the state and park operators.” The same can also, be said far housing the numerous workers. The study plans on 12 housing units.

The report also does not address how the 288,000 visitors will get to, the island. This kind of volume means several more ferries per day, many more plane and private boat arrivals, and much more frequent service to Put-in-Bay. There was no mention of efforts to contact the ferry companies serving the islands as to how they would be adapting their operations to satisfy this increased demand for transportation.

And finally, there was no mention in the study about anything which would draw visitors to the island other than the development of the state park. This leaves the doors wide open for other businesses on the island such as taxis, golf cart and bike rentals, but compared to Put-in-Bay, the inherent attractions of Middle Bass aren’t numerous and may leave visitors wondering what else they are going to do for two or three days at a crack on the island.

The study also did not address the impact of the park operations on the island, its residents and the few businesses which are already in operation there.

In any case, hang on for the ride! Middle Bass is round to change even if the $57 million estimated cost for all these things isn't totally spent.

Also see the Middle Bass Discussion Board thread about this article

Webmaster's comments:


When I first got this article about 9 days ago, I sent emails to three ODNR staff asking for comments, because it may well be that this study is not considered very realistic anymore. We simply don't know the status of this study. I wanted to give ODNR the opportunity to let me know what the current status of this study is. But I have not gotten any responses. If I do receive comments from ODNR later, I will add them to this page.


Let's assume for a minute that the 280,000 visitor figure is real, even if we hope it doesn't happen until 2106 or later, if at all. A simple calculation says that if 90% of the annual 280,000 visitors come in the peak 90 days of the year, which is likely, then that translates to an average of 2800 visitors per day during the summer. Since weekend visitors are always at least double or triple the weekday visitors, that means over 5000 visitors per day on a Saturday or Sunday, and of course many more than that on the three peak weekends. If you could average 2800 visitors per day, you would have at least 10,000 to 15,000 per day on each day of the 3 peak weekends, Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day, squeezed mostly on less than 100 acres. Very likely, the 50% of the state park land not occupied by the hotels, restaurants and stores will be taken up by the side-by-side water treatment plant and sewage treatment plant. Oh well.


But there's another part of this study that I don't understand at all. Having worked for a number of years in corporate strategic planning many years ago, I have commissioned and even worked on a number of studies with highly optimistic market projections. There were often internal reasons for such optimistic projections being useful for the discussion they generated. But if ANY of these had ever become public, I would have been fired IMMEDIATELY because of the liability issues involved, unless perhaps there were some VERY strong disclaimers in the study. If such projections were used by an investor as a basis of investment on a hotel or other establishment on Middle Bass, and the investor lost money, the investor could sue the company that produced the study. Has something changed in U.S. liability laws since I left strategic planning? I'd love to know.






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