Pine Lake Park to reopen

A powerful storm knocked down trees and caused widespread devastation to Pine Lake Park last August. (The Leader-Herald file photo)

CAROGA — After a severe storm swept through Pine Lake Park during the Eddie Music Festival last year, doing tremendous damage to the park and to many camps, there were some who wondered if the park would open again this year.

Pine Lake Park owner Jeff Houck was not among them.

“This business has been in my family for 40 years. I grew up here as a child and we all felt the same way. Our customers are like family,” he said. “It will look a little different, there will be less shade, but nonetheless, we’ll be ready to go.

“Certain areas were hit harder than others, but at no point did we ever entertain not opening. There was never a time when we said we were throwing in the towel, and that we can’t do this anymore.”

Another change for Pine Lake this year will be that the Eddie Music Festival has moved to the Concordia Club in Gloversville. The festival, which will still feature two stages, will take place Aug. 12 from noon to midnight.

Houck estimates his business received more than $250,000 in damage from the storm, and other major damage was done to nearby camps. Many trees have been downed within and near the park, opening up the possibility of more sun shine, and less shade.

“We ended up with in excess of $60,000 worth of tree work. Power lines were down. Power panels were smashed, water lines were smashed and we spent the remainder of last season, and well into the fall, repairing those items and trying to bring them back up to code,” he said. “We believe we are on top of everything now. All of the pieces are in play to reopen.”

Houck said Pine Lake Park expects to reopen in mid-May and have a regular season that will end around the end of September. He said Pine Lake Park has slots available for season-long rentals, with prices ranging from $2,300 to $2,500.

“Some people chose not to return, perhaps because their property was so badly damaged and they didn’t get enough in insurance settlements,” he said. “We don’t do too much overnight camping. The last couple years we’ve been more or less filled to capacity. This year, I think we might have 8 to 10 sites open, but not as many as I think most people would expect after a disaster.”

Houck said Pine Lake Park has yet to receive any insurance money to cover the storm damage, although he’s still hopeful they will eventually.

John Lakata, one of the organizers of the Eddie Music Festival, which supports the Edward Lakata Memorial Scholarship Fund, explained the move to the Concordia Club.

“We thought the majority of the people are from the Johnstown, Gloversville area, so we thought it might be a little better location and try something new and see how it goes,” he said. “[Last year’s storm at Pine Lake] didn’t really play into any of it. That was out of everybody’s control and that was a once-in-a-lifetime event and we hope it never happens again.”

Houck said Pine Lake Park still plans to have musical events during the summer, including a band performance during the park’s big Fourth of July event.

“[Losing the Eddie is a] big loss for us from a revenue standpoint, but we appreciate that we had it as long as we did. We had it for a number of years, and we understand that there are always other forces at play and they wanted to try something different,” he said.

Lakata said it’s not impossible the Eddie might someday return to Pine Lake Park.

By Chad Fleck

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