Lake Compounce is looking to expand again and this time the plan could provide the facilities necessary to make New England’s oldest and longest running theme park an overnight destination.
But it’s not a hotel the park is looking for.
Representatives of Lake Compounce came before Tuesday night with a site plan for the development of a campground to the northeast of the amusement park, one which would include a combination of campers and cabins designed to accommodate the needs of out-of-state visitors.
“Each year as we’ve done our surveys and data collection, one thing that has really stood out is that more and more people are coming to the park from out of state,” said Jerry Brick, general manager at Lake Compounce.
The plan calls for the phased development of a 30-acre portion of the Lake Compounce property, located to the northwest of the park on the old Norton property said Andrew Quirk, principal and professional engineer with Kratzert, Jones & Associates. The plan calls for the eventual development of 34 cabins and a total of 94 sites to house campers.
In the middle of the complex, a welcome center will serve as a meeting point for guests and provide bathroom and shower facilities.
The plan is part of an ongoing expansion that is designed to attract new guests to the park, Quirk said. The new facilities will contain many of the luxury amenities provided by a hotel, he said, but with the experience of camping out.
“It’s a popular and growing trend right now,” Quirk said. “How we develop will depend on the market. The cabins are the more popular choice right now, so we may consider building those first, maybe 20 in all.”
A few neighbors expressed concerns Tuesday over noise and hikers, but both Brick and Quirk spent time with them outside the meeting and agreed to make sure these concerns are addressed. Commissioners anonymously approved a special permit use, saying the use conformed to the plan for the area, but the site plan itself was tabled for further review.
Brick said the site plan is just the first step in a long process of acquiring local and state approvals and construction is not likely to begin for a year yet “at the earliest.”
The entire site would involve a multi-million dollar expansion and is not likely to be completed for several years.
“We want to be a complete package. We want the park to truly become a destination for people to visit and with the Halloween program, the Christmas celebration and now this, we are putting the pieces together to do so over the next several years,” Brick said.