Newark Advocate: Dredge Will Go Out for Bids

Buckeye Lake’s long awaited new dredge to go out for bids later this year

Michaela Sumner

Newark Advocate
The view of a new public path and Buckeye Lake, from North Bank.

BUCKEYE LAKE – The long awaited new dredge that could improve water quality in Buckeye Lake should be going out for bid later this year.

In a Facebook post last week, Buckeye Lake Region Corporation announced the news from Ohio Department of Natural Resources that a new dredge would soon be going out to bid for the lake.

“We had been told several times in the past month and a half or so that this was likely, but we didn’t hear until maybe a week and a half ago that it was truly going out to bid,” BLRC Director Mike Fornataro told The Advocate. “There’s been a need for a new dredge at the lake for so long that when you see something like this, you just hope against hope that it’s true.”

More:No. 7 story of 2018: Buckeye Lake dam reopens

Ohio Senator Jay Hottinger said it’s been a lengthy process, but ever since the dam project was completed, they realized the immediate next need was a new dredger for the lake.

Fornataro said once the bids are done, it will take as many as seven months for the new dredge to be built to the specifications needed for the lake. He anticipated it could be placed in the lake as early as later this year or in 2022.

Hottinger said any bid will have to come before the controlling board before the project moves forward. He acknowledged the dredge isn’t a “solve all,” but will play a part in improving water quality.

Although Fornataro said agricultural partners around Buckeye Lake have worked to control runoff into the waters, the lake’s largest problem with water clarity and quality is the phosphorous and nitrogen in the bottom of the lake, which serves as food for algae.

“Once that is removed, it will have effects on clarity and quality of the water,” he explained, adding it would add depth to the lake as well.

From his understanding, Fornataro said the intention is the new dredge would begin in the east end of the lake with the most aggressive dredging. Working in conjunction with the new dredge will be existing ones that do channels and other areas of the lake.

Fornataro explained the existing dredges were built in the 1960’s and are analog. The new dredge will have the ability to reach areas not currently navigable due to silt on the bottom of the lake.

He anticipated northern Perry County would be the first to see the impact as far as accessibility and ease of navigation goes.

More:Recovering from dam project, Buckeye Lake businesses push on during coronavirus pandemic

According to Fornataro, Buckeye Lake Region Corporation has been pushing for a new dredge since their inception in 2017, however, other entities have worked just as hard for it.

Fornataro noted the state of Ohio has made an investment into Buckeye Lake, first with a new dam and now a new dredge.

“What did it take to get here? I can’t go buy a new dredge. Buckeye Lake Region Corporation can’t go buy a new dredge,” he said. “I took the efforts of elected officials pushing for this and making it a priority for the state budget to release the funds to do that. We can advocate all we want, but without elected officials, this never would’ve happened.”

Hottinger said he’s excited about what’s happening in the area and the best days of Buckeye Lake are still in front of it.

“All investments really hinge upon a healthy lake. It’s not the solve all, but a new dredger won’t be breaking down hopefully,” Hottinger said, noting Buckeye Lake’s future hinges on the water quality there.

Adding a little fun to the project, Fornataro said they’ll be holding a contest to name the new dredge in partnership with ODNR. Details will be announced at a later date.

For more information, visit Buckeye Lake Region Corporation’s Facebook page.

Buckeye Lake Region Corporation Releases Hospitality Study


Buckeye Lake Region Hospitality Plan Identifies Opportunities for New Accommodation Sites

 JULY 29, 2020, BUCKEYE LAKE, OH – The Buckeye Lake Region Corporation is pleased to announce the finalization and availability of the “Buckeye Lake Region Hospitality Plan”. The plan, completed by renowned landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm MKSK, identifies realistic expectations and opportunity sites for the delivery of new accommodations throughout the Buckeye Lake Region. The study was made possible through in-kind donations and fundraising efforts on behalf of the Buckeye Lake Region Community Foundation.

“The purpose of the Buckeye Lake Region Hospitality Plan was to identify opportunities in and around Buckeye Lake for a diverse variety of hotel and lodging hospitality options,” said Mike Fornataro, Executive Director, Buckeye Lake Region Corporation. “We are extremely pleased with the vision outlined in the completed plan which builds upon leveraging the rich cultural and natural assets in the Region, while also recognizing certain barriers to development that exist in the area.”

Buckeye Lake Region Hospitality Plan: Highlights and Key Points

When compiling the study, MKSK completed a comprehensive market analysis of the Buckeye Lake Region in order to assess current market conditions, barriers and realistic opportunities in order to support a broader vision for Buckeye Lake that can “unlock a more diversified range of investment opportunities”.

 This market analysis resulted in the following strategic recommendations:

  • Build Around the Place: Leverage community and sense of place to create an “authentic” experience.
  • Create the Amenity/Destination: Broaden the experience by creating a new destination and amenities attractive to both daytrip and overnight visitors (e.g. Crystal lake, pier, hotel, boardwalk).
  • Leverage Housing Market: Recent development indicates healthy market conditions for certain sub-markets around Buckeye Lake.
  • Differentiate the Lake Experience: Offer a distinctive experience beyond just boating activities and casual lakeside dining.
  • Enhance Marketing Efforts: Expand marketing efforts to better position it as an easily accessible weekend destination for residents of the Columbus region.

Also included in the Hospitality Plan is a thorough opportunity site evaluation. This evaluation considered findings from the market analysis, including supply and hospitality trends, as well as qualitative attributes of each location, including accessibility, visibility, marketability, and relative context within the Buckeye Lake market.

The opportunity site evaluation reviewed current feasibility, challenges, criteria to implement, phasing and impact of seven opportunity site types:

  1. Resort/conference center
  2. State park lodge
  3. Highway orientated hotel
  4. Inn
  5. Ecolodge
  6. Hotel/boardwalk
  7. Cottage


This evaluation concluded that an incremental investment approach would present the highest feasibility (and lowest risk), since it could “test” the market with new products, while aligning other strategic efforts to improve market conditions.

Opportunity Sites Identified

A critical part of the Hospitality Plan includes the identification and evaluation of a series of opportunity sites and typology options around Buckeye Lake and the Region. These sites vary in size and schemes and present a broad range of opportunities that would support the area while “capturing the local character and elevating Buckeye Lake’s competitive position”.

More Information and Media Inquiries

To access the full version of the “Buckeye Lake Region Hospitality Plan” visit If you would like more information and/or have questions or media inquiries about the study, please contact Mike Fornataro, Buckeye Lake Region Corporation Executive Director via email at

About the Buckeye Lake Region Corporation

The Buckeye Lake Region Corporation was officially formed in September 2017. The BLRC is a tri-county alliance between Licking, Perry and Fairfield counties and is open to all political and civic entities in the tri-county region. Its mission is to coordinate, manage and execute initiatives that support the Buckeye Lake 2036 Vision and the Buckeye Lake Region Declaration. For more information about the Buckeye Lake Region Corporation, visit or follow us on Facebook @buckeyelake2036.

Click here to download a copy of the press release:

BLRC Hospitality Study_PR_7.17.20


5th Anniversary: Signing of the BLR2036 Declaration


BLR2036 Declaration Serves as a Guiding Principle 

This month marks the 5th anniversary of the signing of the BLR2036 Declaration. This declaration was initiated at a community meeting of over 270 residents on January 2016 and adopted on May 16, 2016. Since that time, the BLR2036 Declaration has served as a guiding principle for the Buckeye Lake Region Corporation and the Buckeye Lake Region Community Foundation.

Buckeye Lake 2036 represents the Community Vision for the Buckeye Lake Region and it is the strategic plan and vision for the future of the Region. The Declaration solidified this vision, with input from those that matter most: the members of our community that live and work in the Buckeye Lake Region.

Since incorporating on September 17, 2016, the BLRC has achieved many milestones to advance the Community Vision. A few of those milestones include:

  • Providing a structure for political representation of the entire Region
  • Community Meetings formalized
  • Buckeye Lake Region Community Foundation established
  • Comprehensive Retail Study of the Region
  • Designs and concepts of the Region by internationally recognized architecture and planning company, DPZ CoDesign
  • Community Pier initial funding secured
  • Feeder Channel remediation funds approved
  • Perry County public lake access re-appropriate funds secured
  • Ongoing relationship-building with the elected officials and agencies that can positively impact the Region
  • Consistent lobbying for new dredges and dredge materials sits for Buckeye Lake
  • Initiation of Drainage Improvement Project to address flooding and water flow issues.
  • “Crystal Lagoon” feasibility study
  • Region-wide hospitality study

These milestones have been achieved in pursuit of the Community Vision and would not be possible without the generous support of the Buckeye Lake Region Community Foundation and its donors.