State says island plan about ready
Creating 'Disneyland North' isn't intent, says park official
By Rick Neale
The Port Clinton News Herald
PORT CLINTON -- The Ohio Department of Natural Resources
will likely release a master plan for development of Middle
Bass Island State Park within the next month or two, a
high-ranking official said Thursday.
Since the July 2000 Lonz Winery terrace collapse, ODNR
has invested $6.75 million buying about 128 acres of island
property from winery owner Paramount Distillers Inc. Architects
envision campgrounds, expanded marina facilities, a swimming
beach, hiking trails and re-opening of the winery as a
Two consulting firms have almost finished refining the
"rough draft" layout plans for the park, ODNR
Deputy Director Scott Zody said.
"We're just about ready to move forward with the
unveiling of the master plan," Zody told the Ottawa
County commissioners during an hour-long meeting Thursday.
He said the master plan will likely highlight a high-cost,
"Cadillac style" version of what Middle Bass
Island State Park might look like. Work will begin soon
on a cost feasibility study to determine what can and
can't be built, he said.
Regardless of how those financial projections turn out,
Zody said ODNR does not want to create "Disneyland
North on the island."
Zody said the marina will likely be developed ahead of
the land-based attractions because federal funding has
already been secured. He said ODNR is interested in entering
into a partnership with Put-in-Bay Township or Ottawa
County for installation of water and sewer utilities.
Lonz Winery was the scene of a tragic accident during
the Fourth of July weekend in 2000. About 100 people tumbled
about 20 feet into a wine cellar when a terrace collapsed
at the historic building.
A Columbus man was killed and 75 people were injured.
The winery never re-opened to the public.
Commissioner Carl Koebel asked if ODNR plans to improve
public access to Middle Bass Island.
"I'm not sure the demand is going to be there if
the transportation isn't," he said.
Zody said state officials are willing to work with Miller
Boat Line, Sonny-S Boat Line and other private entities
to upgrade ferry service to the island.
By next season, ODNR plans to install a modular restroom-shower
building near the marina and possibly create primitive
camping sites, he said.
Regarding North Bass Island, Zody said his agency is
still pursuing the purchase of 677 acres of undeveloped
land -- the bulk of the entire island. That property is
also owned by Paramount Distillers Inc.
Zody said The Conservation Fund, a national non-profit
nature preservation organization, may become involved
in the land buy. He said North Bass Island would not become
a typical Ohio state park or wildlife area.
"It's an opportunity to conserve one of the last
great places, if you will, in Lake Erie," he said.
"It's the largest island remaining in the lake that's
The county commissioners were nonplused. Commissioner
John Papcun asked if the state will reimburse Put-in-Bay
Schools and other public services that would lose property
tax revenues after the land buy.
Commissioner Steve Arndt and Koebel said ODNR should
first worry about improvements at heavily traveled East
Harbor State Park before monkeying around on isolated
North Bass Island. Arndt said the state would get "the
biggest bang for the buck" by investing at East Harbor