Legislation approved Thursday by House law­makers would authorize $15 million for the con­struction of a new lodge in Lake Murray State Park.


 


Senate Bill 1913, by state Sen. Frank Simp­son and state Rep. Pat Ownbey, would allow the Department of Tour­ism to draw on the State Park Fund, which in turn receives money from mineral lease payments, royalties and other pay­ments associated with oil and gas in state parks.


 


Ownbey said the new lodge will be a boost to Ardmore and Oklahoma.


Legislation approved Thursday by House law­makers would authorize $15 million for the con­struction of a new lodge in Lake Murray State Park.

 

Senate Bill 1913, by state Sen. Frank Simp­son and state Rep. Pat Ownbey, would allow the Department of Tour­ism to draw on the State Park Fund, which in turn receives money from mineral lease payments, royalties and other pay­ments associated with oil and gas in state parks.

 

Ownbey said the new lodge will be a boost to Ardmore and Oklahoma.

 

“This is the state’s crown jewel of parks and a draw to nearby Dallas, bringing Texas tourism dollars to the state,” said Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “There is an average of 13,000 vacationers who visit each year, contrib­uting more than $1 mil­lion to our local economy. The new lodge is needed because the old one has deteriorated badly. This project will not cost a single taxpayer dollar but will bring a great deal of revenue to municipal and state government.” Oklahoma operates 41 state park properties, but only owns 14 of the parks. Lake Murray State Park, with 12,496 acres, is big­ger than all the other state-owned parks com­bined. A total of $16.6 million in the State Park Fund came from royalty payments at Lake Mur­ray.

 

“Being that a majority of the royalties put into the State Park Fund came from the Lake Murray State Park, it only makes sense to use those funds to build a new lodge at that park with modern amenities that will be more appealing to tourists than the current, outdated one," said Simpson, R-Ardmore. "A new lodge will help attract new tourists to the area, which will be economically beneficial not only for the local area but for the state as well. I'm anxious to get this bill to the Governor's desk so construction can get underway." State Rep. Tommy Hardin said the lodge will benefit all nearby towns.

 

"When we're this close to Dallas, any traffic we can bring to Lake Murray affects every retailer in the area," said Hardin, R-Madill. "These tourists will stop at gas stations and restaurants in Ardmore, Madill and other small communities" The work of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce and state Rep. Leslie Osborn were critical to the bill's success, Ownbey said.

 

"The Ardmore Tourism Authority has been working since 2004 to get a new facility at Lake Murray and, of course, we are delighted," said Mita Bates, chamber vice-president. "The shining jewel of tourism in southern Oklahoma is now going to be a source of pride again for the state and the community." Bates said the new lodge could be a spring board for additional public/private partnerships and development at the lake, by building new cabins and other new housing options once the lodge is complete.