A combination of mounting repair costs and a change in management is forcing a state park lodge in Morgan County to close.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Laura Jones says the Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center will temporarily close at the beginning of next year.
Jones says the lodge's private operator, Xanterra, did not bid on the contract to continue running the facility. "The existing utility costs are pretty high — they're just bleeding money basically. They are not making a profit and from a business perspective, I guess, it didn't make sense for them to bid again to manage the facility."
Jones says the closing will result in about 45 people losing their jobs.
But she says both ODNR and the Xanterra Company are working with those employees to help them make future plans. "ODNR has already made contact with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and Xanterra also will be working with it's employees but that the goal here is to be in touch with these employees sooner rather than later so that we can help them as best we can," said Jones.
Jones says the Burr Oak campgrounds and cottages will remain open after the lodge closes.
She says the shutdown is a chance to change gears and re-assess the best use for the lodge. The Ohio University College of Business and stateTravel and Tourism department will partner with ODNR to plan a new strategy.
"This is an opportunity to be looking at a new business model. Burr Oak is a beautiful location, the lodge, the setting, that it's in is just gorgeous and you know people still enjoy that, however things are changing as far as what people want when they get away," she said.
Jones says the lodge will continue business as usual for anyone with reservations up to January 31st, 2012.