Red River Gorge Destination Resort Concept Raises Questions

Red River Economic Development, LLC is considering a potential destination resort and four-county tourism plan for the Red River Gorge area of Eastern Kentucky. The group was formed to spur tourism and create jobs, and is a nonprofit organization affiliated with the state’s largest business association, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

The project could include a lodge with 150 to 175 rooms, a 12,000-square-foot meeting space, private cabins, a themed village, over-ground gondolas and more, according to the group’s concept paper. The group intends to contract with a firm to conceive the master plan once the already approved $500,000 federal grant is matched by state funds, and then use those funds to attract a developer and investors.

Around 100 people attended an October public meeting about the potential resort hosted by Powell County Judge-Executive James Anderson at Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Local residents and business owners expressed concern about the project’s environmental impacts and its effects on existing businesses and the community, according to notes provided by environmental advocacy group Kentucky Conservation Committee.

As the planning process continues, the public can expect more opportunities for engagement with town hall meetings and social media input, according to consultant and project manager David Adkisson.

One possible location for the resort project is on 900 acres of private land close to the Mountain Parkway in Slade, Ky., near Natural Bridge State Resort Park, which is known for its rock climbing and hiking. The option for this location is available until June 30. — By Jack Singletary


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