Representatives of the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Convention Facilities Authority met with the Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners on Monday to discuss the future of the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake.
Earlier this year, provisions in the state’s biennial budget would allow the state to take control of the lodge by the end of the year. A number of local entities objected to the move, including both the CVB and the CFA.
The language in the state budget requires a deal to be reached between the state and the county for the takeover of the lodge by the end of the year, and sets a maximum price the state will pay for the lodge at just under $14 million.
After the budget bill was signed, commissioners decided to hold meetings with people and organizations that are invested in the lodge’s success.
Meetings were held on Monday and Tuesday about the transfer.
“There are a lot of stakeholders, detailed existing contracts and moving parts in this process,” CVB Director Stephanie Siegel said in a press release. “We want to do everything we can to collaborate in a productive way. This is about economics, not politics. Open discussion regarding potential solutions is a great first step.”
CVB President Eddy Eckart said in the statement that maintaining the lodge’s quality and ability to be an economic driver is critical, and the CVB is happy to be part of the conversation.
“There are opportunities for the dual goals of eliminating debt and retaining local control of one of our region’s most economically impactful properties,” Eckart said in the statement. “Tourism is Ashtabula County’s third largest and fastest growing industry, and the success of the Lodge has been responsible for much of that growth.”
CFA Chair Holly Mayernick said the lodge has been an immense success, and the area cannot afford to endanger that.
“We are eager to explore a path forward that is beneficial to all parties. Everyone involved wants the best outcome for our community,” she said in the statement.
On Tuesday afternoon Commissioner Casey Kozlowski said commissioners came out of Monday’s meeting looking forward to working together in a collaborative manner.
Tuesday’s meeting included a number of entities from the area, Kozlowski said.
Kozlowski said recurring requests he has heard for the agreement between the county and the state is some form of local input or control and continual maintenance on the facility.
Commissioners are interested in those issues as well, he said.