High above the town of Jim Thorpe sits a ballroom that has a scenic view that can rival the Grand Canyon.
Flagstaff Resort Land Holdings Ltd. wants to take that view and build a resort, sky tram system, and zip line around it.
On Thursday evening, members of Carbon County businesses and organizations gathered at Flagstaff Ballroom in Jim Thorpe to listen to the complete vision that Larry Masi, CEO of Dominion Development Group; and Tim Markley, owner of Flagstaff, had since Markley purchased the property years ago. At that time, Markley enjoyed hang-gliding from the rooftop of the ballroom.
The duo introduced its new driving force to the group, Rick E. Forgay II, president and CEO of Business Leadership Mastery of Massachusetts. Forgay, who was born and raised in Carbon County and is the past Carbon Schuylkill Industrial Development Corporation president, will be providing executive leadership, strategic planning, building community support, recruiting, and facilitating a local advisory board. He will also work to secure funding for the $25 million project.
As the meeting started, Forgay thanked everyone for attending. He talked about the history of the CSIDC and how the group has helped create many of the attractions that Carbon County has today, including the No. 9 Mine and Museum, and Delaware Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. CSIDC had been selected as the cornerstone group for the meeting because of its commitment to economic growth.
Forgay spoke about his personal experiences with Flagstaff over the years and outlined the plan that could put Carbon County back on the map for tourist attractions.
"Flagstaff represents preservation and protection," he said, adding that Markley and Masi's plan to construct a resort and wellness center, tram system and visitors center, and a zip line ride would help preserve the history of the area, while providing new opportunities for the county and its residents.
Markley explained that Flagstaff has a special place in the lives of many generations here in Carbon County and he wants to continue to preserve the rich history but also entice visitors to come into the area.
Masi then took the floor, talking about the project's goals. He noted that if all goes right, the team is hoping to begin constructing the first of three phases, which is the Soaring Eagle Zip line, a motorized zip line where people could enjoy a ride 1,000 feet above Jim Thorpe in open-air bucket seats, by next spring.
He noted that this project would help generate millions for the area as tourists come to see the beauty that makes up Jim Thorpe; as well as create new jobs for area residents.
"This is one of the toughest times in the economy," he said. "Flagstaff can be the launch pad for economic development in Carbon County. The whole community would prosper."
The hotel, which would be located on Flagstaff Mountain and include a spa and wellness center, already received preliminary site approval, Masi said, adding that in addition to the hotel and zip line, a motorized tram system would also be constructed down the side of the mountain so visitors could park at Flagstaff and ride down into Jim Thorpe.
All projects, he noted, are green projects, in that they would use wind and solar energy.
"This is a project that can attract the Pepsi's and the Coke's and the Reebok sponsors," Masi said as he showed the potential for expansion.
Masi explained that to be able to do this, he and Markley recruited the best of the best. The tram is designed by Dopplemayr, a company specializing in sky trams; the zip line is designed by Stan Checketts, the creator of the Stratosphere ride in Las Vegas; and the hotel is designed by architect Robert Lack, who has family ties to the Summit Hill area.
Following Masi's overview of the project Forgay spoke about the advisory board that needs to be organized. He said the team would be created with local and global businesses interested in the project. The purpose of the board is to come together and focus on the needs of the project and lend and advice and be an ambassador.
If any business or organization would like to be included on the advisory board, they should contact Forgay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Flagstaff Mountain is a crown jewel of Carbon County in majestic historic and natural beauty," Forgay said. "It is a regenerating linkage in facilitating substantial economic and business growth through tourism, recreation, education, and family enjoyment as it will serve thousands of visitors and families for generations to come."