It’s been a month and a half since Buckingham Co. pulled out of purchasing the Oakwood property. At the time, there was concern about what would happen next.
Ian Rolland, receiver for Oakwood, however, went back to work to find a new buyer. Dr. J. Rex Parent and his sons, J.R. and Jason, have stepped forward to purchase the property. The good news quickly spread through town.
Kay Young, president of the Wawasee Property Owners Association, said, “We’re very excited and very hopeful that this will be a new step for Oakwood.” She continued saying the WPOA board is very happy. “We’re excited to see someone continue Mr. Brembeck’s vision – it’ll be good for the town and the lake.”
“So little is known at present that it’s hard to have a strong opinion,” said Mark Knecht, president of the Oakwood Property Owners Association, via email. “However, this appears to be a very positive (move) for Oakwood. We look forward to getting to know Dr. Parent and learning more about his vision for Oakwood. We have heard that he embraces the Chautauqua program, and the historically spiritual nature of Oakwood. This is good!”
Knecht went on to say “Oakwood has such a wonderful history as a retreat and vacation spot for families and guests; we look forward to its being restored to a vibrant environment once again. Hopefully, this new chapter in the life of Oakwood will be an excellent one.”
Ann Strong, chair of the Chautauqua committee, said the committee is “extremely excited,” and hopes the hotel will be open by next summer. The Chautauqua committee would like to be able to offer week long programs at Oakwood next summer.
Strong said she herself was “so excited” and glad to hear Parent supports the Chautauqua vision.
“I’m very excited, just the fact that it’s going to remain a hotel and restaurant,” said Tammy Cotton, executive director of the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce. She’s received the same consensus from other people she’s spoken to since the announcement.
Cotton said she was also relieved the hotel wouldn’t be demolished or turned into condominiums. “It’s going to build the economy here, give it a boost,” she said. “People are always calling asking where they can stay on the lake. Thank goodness for Dr. Parent.”
Pastor Harlan Steffen, who coordinates the boat-in worship services held off the shores of Oakwood, said he was excited and hopeful. He explained he wanted to see something good continue at the property and wants Oakwood “to be really right.
“I want the hotel open. The restaurant open. I want to see it booming. I want to see Oakwood prosper,” he said. “Oakwood is very dear to me; I didn’t want them to tear down the hotel.”
Town Manager Henry DeJulia said he was also excited based on what the town council heard Tuesday evening.