Published Mon, Jun 25, 2012 6:49 pm Dateline
Representatives from the Ohio Department of Transportation addressed new development plans for five regional rest stops at the Logan campus of Hocking College Monday afternoon.
The meeting allowed community members to voice their opinions on the plans, which would convert non-interstate rest areas to service plazas.
Many who attended the meeting voiced their disapproval of the plan and their concerns about the effect on the local economy and environment.
Executive Director of Hocking Hills Tourism Association Karen Raymore says commercializing the rest areas would be extremely detrimental to the visitors and the natural habitat that Hocking Hills has to offer.
"Visitors come here to get away from those trappings of the city," Raymore said. "When you have more than three million people a year coming to escape to a natural environment where the air is clean and where the night sky is unpolluted by light, to put in that kind of development is inappropriate."
ODOT press secretary Steve Faulkner says the development will attract more visitors while bringing in more money for the struggling agency.
"We're looking at ways to be innovative and to generate additional revenue," he said. "This is one idea out of many, so really, this will benefit the state's transportation agency as a whole."
Many members of the community expressed concerns that their voices won't be heard, but Faulkner says that's not the case.
"We're going to hear from everybody, and we're going to incorporate that into the final plan and proceed accordingly."
ODOT representatives plan to hold a meeting June 28 in Columbus to accept bids from possible businesses.