Franchot Questions State Spending on Rocky Gap
Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) today took aim at the state economic development corporation that oversees Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf resort in Western Maryland, questioning a request for a $400,000 line of credit to extend the contract with the company that runs the golf course, hotel and meeting center.
Rocky Gap, located in the scenic mountains near Cumberland in Allegany County, has lost money for years. The state paid to build it, hoping for a money-making tourist destination. Instead, Maryland taxpayers have invested millions of dollars to keep the place afloat. The state authorized slot machines at the resort to boost its fortunes, but no eligible bids came in this winter.
This morning,the Maryland Economic Development Corporation asked the three-member Board of Public Works to approve the line of credit. It was approved 2-1. Franchot dissented, questioning whether Rocky Gap would ever emerge from its financial slump.
"I can't imagine it's going to be a banner year for conferences and corporations," Franchot told Robert C Brennan, MEDCO's executive director. "Given the condition of the economy, how can we have any confidence we're not going to be right back here next year?" Franchot noted that the board authorized $7 million for the resort last year. "I want it off the books of the state," he said.
But Brennan called the 216-room, five-story hotel an "asset of the state" that he will fight to keep alive. "The next three months look very good" for bookings, he said, and assured the public works board that Rocky Gap would end the year in the black. He also said the resort's business plan is not contigent on slots revenue.
April 15, 2009; 3:46 PM ET
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