LINESVILLE — A $2.7 million renovation project to the Pymatuning Lake Spillway will begin July 10 — closing the tourist popular site that draws about 500,000 visitors annually until next spring.

While the road over the Spillway and a small parking lot on the west side of road will remain open during construction, the entire east side of the road including the “bowl” where the public feed fish in the lake will be closed during construction, said Pete Houghton, manager of Pymatuning State Park.

In early June, a spokesman for the Department of General Services, the agency handling the contract, said the Spillway would be open through Labor Day and contractors would work around the tourist season.

However, that stipulation was pulled from the construction contract following a meeting in April and apparently wasn’t disseminated fully, Houghton said.

“Delaying the project or requiring the contractors to keep the facility open during construction would be risky, cost prohibitive and unreasonable given the magnitude of the project,” he said.

“We are fortunate to be open through the July 4th holiday, but with a 300-day anticipated construction period necessary to complete the work, it is time to begin. We do not want to jeopardize any part of the 2007 season.”

Bob Semian, co-owner of the Spillway Inn in Linesville, said the closure may have some impact on his restaurant, but isn’t overly concerned.

“I don’t think it will be devastating,” he said. “The whole lake’s an attraction.”

Semian gets a lot of out-of-area and out-of-state business during the summer and doesn’t anticipate much of a slowdown.

“So many cars stop here with Ohio and New York plates, even Florida plates,” he said. “People will come here anyway. If they can’t visit the Spillway I think we still many benefit.”

David Ray, owner of Ray’s Market Place, a grocery in Linesville, said it might have an impact, but much of his business is related to campers and cabin renters staying at the lake.

“I’m glad they were able to hold off until after Memorial Day and July 4th,” he said.

Once construction begins, all structures at the Spillway site will be removed and replaced as part of the project, Houghton said.

Modern restroom facilities, a new food and souvenir sales area, shade structures and sitting areas to view wildlife will be added along with shoreline stabilization, walkways, landscaping and more efficient parking. Fred L. Burns of Shippenville is the general contractor.

The work is be completed before Memorial Day 2007.

“Although this will be an inconvenience to park visitors during the remainder of this season, we are confident it will be well worth it in the long run,” Houghton said.

Two other facilities near the Spillway will remain open during the summer season — the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Visitor Center and the Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Learning Center, he added.

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