Lodge on hold yet again

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By James Roberts

Efforts to build a lodge and golf course at Green River Lake have hit a snag once again.

In October, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate issued an injunction preventing the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet from issuing or opening proposals on projects at Green River Lake, Herrington Lake, General Burnside Island and Lake Malone.

According to Jill Midkiff, Finance Cabinet director of communications, the injunction resulted from a lawsuit against the state by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, better known as the AFL-CIO, demanding that private contractors working on state park projects pay the prevailing wage.

The prevailing wage is the hourly wage, usual benefits and overtime, paid in the largest city in each county to the majority of workers.

Officials had been awaiting requests for proposals on the Green River Lake project for a third time. A request for proposals is a series of advertisements seeking bids on a project from developers.

Though the deadline to submit proposals was Nov. 1, Finance Cabinet officials cannot comment on them.

"The Finance Cabinet does not comment on the number of bids received on any RFP because it may affect the competitiveness of our negotiations," Midkiff said. "We are prohibited from opening any bids received on this RFP as long as the injunction remains in place."

This means the project is on hold.

"The commonwealth is prohibited from proceeding with this project while the case is pending," Midkiff said.

Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers said he doesn't know how many proposals where received.

"They will not let us know," he said. "We've got to wait to see what comes out of the court in Frankfort."

This isn't the first time the project has stalled.

Campbellsville/Taylor County Recreation Board issued the first RFP five years ago. Tennessee-based developer Earl Worsham submitted a proposal at that time.

However in 2006, the state determined that another RFP would have to be issued because the scope of the project had changed. Plans have been modified several times over the course of discussions with Worsham.

Last year, the lodge was scaled back to about 50 rooms. Previously, it had been a 90-room/30-villa lodge.

The second RFP was issued by the state in February. No one submitted proposals, including Worsham.

In September, the state issued another RFP, which didn't include an 18-hole golf course.

"The original RFPs required the developer to include a golf course as part of the proposal," said J.T. Miller, Kentucky Department of Parks commissioner, in September. "This requirement added approximately $8 million to the developer's total cost, which likely discouraged bidders. We eliminated this requirement but also eliminated the proposed state investment of $3 million for infrastructure that was a part of the last RFP issued."

Now, Miller said, funding for a golf course will be sought from lawmakers.

In 2003, City and County governments each approved measures providing for a bond issue to pay for construction of the golf course. However, the process never went any further.

Aside from the absence of a golf course and state funding, the RFP is essentially the same as the one issued earlier this year. The RFP still calls for a lodge with at least 50 rooms, a swimming pool, restaurant, gift shop and other amenities offered at most state resort parks.

According to the RFP, "private, third-party, developers who will finance, design, construct, maintain, manage, operate, and furnish a first class, high quality resort lodge/conference center/restaurant and facility" may submit proposals.

Developers must "demonstrate the necessary capability to finance, design, construct, and thereafter successfully maintain, operate, furnish and manage the project at optimum potential on a long-term basis."

The RFP also states that "the physical structure of the lodge and attendant facilities will be similar, though not identical, to the lodge at Dale Hollow Lake State Park."

The conference center must seat at least 250 in the main room and 12 people in each of the four separate, smaller conference rooms. The restaurant must seat at least 150, and a private dining room should have room for 50.

There was no estimated cost on the new RFP. The total cost of the original project was estimated at $25 million when plans included a 90-room/30-villa hotel and the golf course. The lodge, coupled with a restaurant and conference center as well as the golf course, was expected to cost about $17 million.

- Staff Writer James Roberts can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 226 or by e-mail at writer@cknj.com.