It has been a long and frustrating journey for backers of a golf course and conference center at Rocky Gap State Park designed to boost the economy of Western Maryland. After seven years of controversy in Annapolis and years of searching for developers, backers are within $2 million of their goal. But that last piece of the puzzle is proving elusive. Unless financial angels step forth by Sept. 1, the $48 million project will unravel.
Members of the state's business community should not let that happen. Rocky Gap, just east of Cumberland, represents a vital cog in plans to rejuvenate Western Maryland's depressed economy. The project consists of a conference center with 250 hotel rooms, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, a golfing academy, a tennis academy and a fly-fishing academy. All this will be nestled in a corner of the 2,800-acre state park.
The project seems a natural: Most of the weekday conference center business would come from Fortune 1000 companies, but since the Nicklaus golf course lies within commuting distance of 14 million people, it could become a weekend haven for golfers. With completion of the National Freeway in August and the commencement of commuter-air service from Cumberland to Pittsburgh, Rocky Gap's drawing power could range far up and down the East Coast and into the Ohio Valley.