Summer 2019 Update from BLRC


The BLRC exists to strategically guide the growth of the Buckeye Lake Region in a manner consistent with the Community Vision outlined in the “BLR 2036 Declaration” and to secure grant dollars to fund water quality, infrastructure, tourism and “quality of life” projects. On the BLRC Board of Directors are elected representatives of the counties, townships, villages, school districts, home owner associations and civic groups. All political or civic entities in the Region are welcome to join. To see the complete list of BLRC members visit:

The BLRC is actively pursuing many important issues that have a Regional impact:

ODNR BUCKEYE LAKE COMMITTEE: Having met several times with the new ODNR administration we are encouraged by a general spirit of responsiveness and cooperation. ODNR will be establishing a “Buckeye Lake Committee”, creating a consistent point of contact within ODNR making communication far smoother.  

STORM WATER COMMITTEE:  Infrastructure behind the dam is lacking and leads to flooding. Without a comprehensive storm water mitigation plan this will only get worse, not better. The BLRC Infrastructure Committee is looking into ways that storm water may be managed and researching grants to pay for this important initiative.  

ESTABLISHING FUNDS AT THE LICKING, FAIRFIELD AND PERRY COUNTY FOUNDATIONS: Largely dependent on charitable donations to operate, when the BLRC was created a fund was established at the Columbus Foundation. We now have (or soon will have) funds set up at the Foundations in each of the Lake-Region counties.

GRANT RESEARCH and ADMINISTRATION: To find the grants available for everything from infrastructure to tourist amenities the BLRC has secured the services of David Hansen as “Director of Public Development”. David is now assisted by Nicole Gieseler, Grant Administration Manager. Together they hope to procure the funds to support

QUEEN OF THE LAKE III TOUR BOAT: The Greater Buckeye Lake Historical Society has been restoring an 88’ Sternwheel paddle boat which will cruise the waters of Buckeye Lake, an homage to the long history of beautiful tour boats on the lake. The BLRC made a financial contribution to the restoration and has assembled a group of experts to assist in design, engineering and project planning. The QotL III is going to be aniconic addition to the Region and may be launched yet this year. More information about the QotL III and the Historical Society at

SINGER / SONGWRITER MUSIC FESTIVAL: Tracy Higginbotham, Chair of the BLRC Hospitality Committee and owner of Buckeye Lake Winery, is making plans for a Region-wide singer/songwriter music festival. This multi-day event will take place in venues around the Lake Region. A late September or early October date is part of the plan, but the complicated logistics may delay this to 2020. As more information becomes available we will be sure to keep the Region informed.

COMMUNITY MEETING On May 11th the BLRC hosted a Community Meeting at Thornville Elementary. These meetings, held 3 times each year, (once in each county) offer updates on BLRC activities and plans and conclude with an opportunity for the audience to ask questions of the BRLC representatives. Encouragingly, nearly half of the audience were attending their first Community Meeting. The next meeting will be September 14 at Lakewood High School.

CHAMPIONS OF THE LAKE: We are pleased to welcome 4 new “Champions of the Lake” since the Spring Update. This is the designation for the highest level of business donors to the efforts of the Buckeye Lake Region Corporation. The newest Champions of the BLRC initiative are Strait & Lamp Lumber, Beach Stop Market, Petplex Animal Hospital and Stone Works Partners / Landings at Maple Bay. Please support the businesses that support your community!


LOGJAMS: Logjams on the South Fork of the Licking River contribute to flooding in the Buckeye Lake Region. Removing the jams will bring a freer-flowing river that should benefit all. BLRC is working with watershed groups, elected officials and the Army Corp of Engineers to find a solution.

FEEDER CHANNEL: Much of the water, silt and algae in Buckeye Lake enters through the Feeder. ODNR is remediating the end closest to the lake and the BLRC successfully applied for $400,000 in the Ohio Capitol Budget to expand that work. ODNR has designated specific funds towards a comprehensive watershed study to find a permanent fix.

PERRY COUNTY ACCESS: BLRC applied for funds from the state capitol budget and $500,000 in re-appropriations was confirmed for this project. The project will be in stages, with more amenities and access as the project matures as an overall revitalization vision for the Thornport area. Thorn Township is leading this project with the support of the BLRC.

DREDGING: A boost to dredge plans came with the ODNR purchase of 70 acres south of Thornville, but more sites to the west are needed. If you know of a plot of land over 5 acres and within a mile of the lake shore, please contact ODNR. BLRC has been actively cultivating support for one or more dredge machines to replace the 50-year-old units currently on the lake. Elected officials at the State level generally agree on the need for new dredge units.

COMMUNITY PIER: envisioned as a 300’-long pier at North Shore Park for fishing or relaxing, public transient docking and a restaurant at the lakeward end. BLRC was successful in securing $400,000 in the state capitol budget for this project. Initial studies and plans may soon begin.

HOSPITALITY STUDY: A comprehensive hospitality study is planned to determine what the real need is for hotel rooms and visitor amenities, what makes sense for the Region and where is best fits. Such a study will cost about $30,000.

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OUR DONORS: These are but a few of the projects that the Buckeye Lake Region Corporation is working on every day.   While grants may pay for projects, day-to-day expenses are supported by the generous donations of individuals and businesses in the Region. To see who is funding this important initiative, to donate to the BLRC or to learn more about what BLRC is doing, please visit

Perry County to get public access to Buckeye Lake

Newark Advocate: Perry County to get public access to Buckeye Lake

, Newark Advocate

THORN TOWNSHIP – A new park will soon give Perry County residents public access to Buckeye Lake.

The park, which will be located along Ohio 13 near Honey Creek Road in Thorn Township, will begin with construction of a canoe and kayak launch and parking lot in the southeast end of Buckeye Lake.

According to Mike Fornataro, Buckeye Lake Region Corporation director, the project is expected to go out for bid within eight weeks.

A design for the project shows a second phase of the project will include a public boat launch, trailer parking and lakeside promenade. The design indicates future phases could include private development, including a hotel, residential and retail properties.

“Perry County has never had public lake access and I think it’s a great thing that now the citizens of northern Perry County will have that ability to go out to the water and fish or launch their kayaks and eventually have even more of a park and an amenity,” Fornataro said.

Officials estimate after 20 years, the project could result in more than 95 new jobs, over $17 million in total revenue, $4.7 million in new property taxes, and a sales tax revenue of nearly $900,000 annually.

According to Thorn Township Trustee Bob Coleman, the park entrance, canoe/kayak launch, parking lot, and promenade will cost $500,000, which is funded by money the township received through Sen. Jay Hottinger in 2017.

Coleman said he thought Perry County needed the new park.

“Perry County is the only county of Buckeye Lake that has never had public access to the water,” he said, adding the project will promote tourism and economic development for the area and remainder of the county.

Fornataro said he thought the project would have a lasting impact on the Buckeye Lake region.

“I think the future of the lake is multiple amenities – not one big amenity that’s centralized – but amenities around the lake, whether they be around the village of Buckeye Lake or Millersport or Perry County,” he said. “I really think that’s more of what we’ll see is these sort of developments. I think it will lead to an economic impact that’s important for Perry County, this park in particular.”

Coleman said Thorn Township Trustees and Perry County officials are in the final stages of designing a safer traffic pattern at the intersection of Ohio 13, Honey Creek and Zion Roads.


Perry County Public Lake Access Soon to be a Reality

Perry County Will Soon Have Public Access to Buckeye Lake

As discussed during the May 11th 2019 Community Meeting, Perry County will soon have public access to Buckeye Lake via a new park located in Thorn Township. This project marks an important first step toward the revitalization of Northern Perry County and is the first public project inspired by designs created with Community input.

The Buckeye Lake Region Corporation facilitated the initial meetings that took place to imagine the design of the public access project. These meetings were funded, in part, with  grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Ohio Development Services Agency. The public access project is expected to go out for bid within the next 8 weeks.

Please click below to view renderings of the Thornport Promenade + Kayak Launch, including detailed information on Phase One public access. The economic impact figures included are based on studies commissioned by the Buckeye Lake Region Corporation.

Perry County Public Access_Renderings and Economic Impact