Our opinion: Time for fresh look?

Perhaps this is a good time to take a fresh look at an old idea.

That is, dare we say it, a resort on the Allegheny Reservoir.

Not a sprawling resort attracting so many people that it creates bumper-to-bumper traffic congestion along Route 59 and a flotilla of bow-to-stern congestion on the water.

That’s not what we envision at all.

But a sensibly-sized resort in the Kinzua Beach area could be a good fit.

Why?

Because, as many people have said many times, Kinzua Dam and the Allegheny Reservoir should be a vacation destination, not a stop along the way.

Two recent factors underscore the need to reconsider a resort.

The first is Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways’ project to clear approximately 55 miles of mountain bike trails through the Jakes Rocks area of the Allegheny National Forest overlooking the reservoir. PKP envisions the area becoming a mecca for mountain bike riders, and that means tourists and tourism dollars linked to food, shopping and … lodging.

PKP cites a network of mountain bike trails at Raystown Lake in central Pennsylvania that is already drawing thousands of cyclists and generating more than three million dollars in additional tourism income.

Riding even a portion of proposed mountain bike trails at Jakes Rocks will undoubtedly be taxing and tiring, which means the closer the overnight accommodations are, the better.

The second factor is information presented last week at the Pennsylvania Wilds’ annual Spring Briefing event.

Visitors to the dozen or so counties that PA Wilds encompasses spent an estimated $1.7 billion in 2011, an 11.5 percent rate of growth that was the fourth highest among the state’s 11 tourism regions. The tourists obviously have money to spend, folks, we just need a ‘magnet’ to draw them to Warren County, and a resort on the reservoir might do it.

Think about how many times the following scenario has been duplicated in the Big Bend Access parking lot: A family gets out their car and as they walk as close as possible to the dam to feel the chilly spray of water the father looks at his watch. He waits a few minutes then says, “Okay, we’ve seen the dam … let’s go home!”

Home? Shouldn’t we want him to say, “Let’s go check out our room at the resort!”