State Reps. Martin Causer and Clint Owlett said Tuesday they will continue to advocate for operating a downhill ski and recreation center at Denton Hill State Park — even though there have been no bidders to date.
Since April, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has sought a concessionaire to lease the Potter County site, make necessary improvements to current infrastructure to reopen downhill skiing. It has also been hoped that an operator would develop four-season recreation opportunities at the park, which was developed as a ski area in the 1950s.
The DCNR confirmed Tuesday it received no bids for its initial proposal by the deadline last month.
“This is disappointing news, obviously, but it doesn’t change what we know about the immense potential that exists for skiing and other outdoor activities at Denton Hill State Park,” the lawmakers said in a joint press release. “Our kids and families need this. Our communities need this. Our tourism industry needs this.
“We are not giving up on Denton Hill and encourage DCNR to do the same,” they said.
Causer, R-Turtlepoint, whose House district includes McKean, part of Potter and Cameron counties, and Owlett, a Wellsboro Republican whose district includes part of Potter and Bradford counties and Tioga County, said they are encouraged by DCNR’s plan to talk with parties that had expressed some interest in the project to learn more about their reasons for not submitting a bid.
The agency also indicated plans to engage in additional advertising and industry outreach, as well as a vendor forum, in advance of issuing a second solicitation for bids.
“Last week, we talked about the beauty of public-private partner relationships and the need for government to serve in a customer service role,” Owlett said. “It is incumbent upon DCNR to do all it can to facilitate a partnership that will support the state’s goals and the vendor’s goals, and most importantly to ensure this valuable recreational opportunity is realized for residents of the Northern Tier and beyond.”
Both Causer and Owlett also stressed the importance of DCNR moving as quickly as possible on the next solicitation.
Earlier this year, Causer noted that DCNR has committed $10 million to support implementing the park’s master plan.
Denton Hill, which rises above U.S. Route 6 between Coudersport and Galeton, was once known for its downhill skiing and boarding. Operated as Ski Denton, the site had a remote, rustic feel and often featured shorter waits at the lift line than larger ski areas that are closer to larger population centers.
Ski Denton also opened its slopes and trails for mountain bikers in the off season, while there is also access to cross-country ski and hiking trails. Part of the Susquehannock Trail System, an 85-mile loop hiking trail, forms the southern boundary of the 700-acre state park.
The ski area facilities were also the site of summer and fall events.
Skiing ended in 2014 when the concessionaire stopped operating at Denton Hill. Talks began at that time on how skiing could be brought back.