Deep Creek contract signed

April 12, 1994|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Western Maryland Bureau of The Sun

In time for the spring boating season, the state of Maryland and Pennsylvania Electric Co. have signed a new contract for the management of Deep Creek Lake, Garrett County's primary tourist attraction.

Under the five-year lease, Penelec will pay the state Department of Natural Resources $340,000 a year to manage the 3,900-acre lake.

The three-member state Board of Public Works had delayed signing a new lease -- tentatively approved in December -- after Deep Creek Lake property owners raised concerns about recreational access to the man-made lake and a proposed increase in fees for floating docks and boats.

Property owners -- who backed the lease Wednesday because of concerns about opening in time for the season -- wanted DNR to tie the lease to a permit allowing recreational use of the lake.

Former federal energy licensing requirements required Penelec, which owns the lake bed and a surrounding strip of land but not the water, to open the lake for public recreation uses. Federal oversight expired last year, and Maryland has no state laws mandating such use.

DNR officials said its Water Resources Administration issued a permit Wednesday allowing Penelec to use the lake as a water source for its hydroelectric plant on the nearby Youghiogheny River.

The company has 563,000 customers in central and northwestern Pennsylvania.

The agency did not have the legal authority, however, to tie the lease to recreational use of the lake, a DNR spokesman said.

Because of the dispute with lakeside business owners, Penelec has since revised its proposed dock and boat fees. Commercial slips -- initially set at $175 per slip, up from $25 -- will be $120. Residential slips will remain at $150, up from $50.

Bob Browning, owner of Deep Creek Outfitters, said permits for his 33 boat slips and 50 rental boats will rise to about $6,700 from $800.

He said he was analyzing the impact on his business but expected some of the additional $5,800 in his summer expenses to be passed on to vacationers.

"I'm not thrilled about the [fees]," he said. "I think it's ridiculous. People were worried about the season and thought this was the best deal we were going to get. I was willing to take the risk."

Paul Durham, manager of the Deep Creek Lake Natural Resources Management Area, said dock and rental boat permits will be issued within two weeks. DNR -- which has managed the lake for Penelec since 1981 -- issues about 1,800 permits a year.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.