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Mother Natures Son
09-26-2010, 17:56
I got an e-mail from the folks who run the Iron Master's hostel at Pine Grove state park. (Central PA Conservancy) As things stand, they need $70K+ more by spring to reopen the hostel. With the recession not even close to being over, does anyone think they can raise the money in time?

kayak karl
09-26-2010, 19:20
that's just the way things are going right know. maybe someone will pick it up in foreclosure and let them run it.

Luddite
09-26-2010, 19:22
I would think a hostel would do alright even though the economy sucks. Hikers still need a bed and a shower.

kayak karl
09-26-2010, 19:32
I would think a hostel would do alright even though the economy sucks. Hikers still need a bed and a shower.
my guess is they are stuck in a balloon and rising costs. may have happened with or without recession, but with no details......who knows.?

Lone Wolf
09-26-2010, 20:06
Hikers still need a bed and a shower.

it's not a need. it's a want. i prefer my tent

Crazy Larry #1
09-27-2010, 07:41
I got an e-mail from the folks who run the Iron Master's hostel at Pine Grove state park. (Central PA Conservancy) As things stand, they need $70K+ more by spring to reopen the hostel. With the recession not even close to being over, does anyone think they can raise the money in time?
nope! not unless some wealthy hiker wants to donate the needed funds will it happen......

Toolshed
09-27-2010, 08:02
I would think a hostel would do alright even though the economy sucks. Hikers still need a bed and a shower.
But any appreciable number of hikers really only hits the area late May to early July. there is little sustainable traffic for the other 10 months.

max patch
09-27-2010, 08:43
Hostels come and go.

And if this one has to spend $70,000 in order to collect $25 per hiker then I think the writing is on the wall.

Jester2000
09-27-2010, 10:46
Well, they may say they need $70,000 to reopen the hostel, but in reality they need $70,000 to fully restore the building, and those aren't exactly the same thing.

I doubt bringing the building up to code and making it livable would cost that much, especially considering the volunteer help they could get.

I suspect that in the end the CPCs plans have more to do with it being an "educational facility" and a "community center" than a hostel.

fredmugs
09-27-2010, 10:47
Maybe if they can take out a $300,000 mortgage they can get bailed out.

peakbagger
09-27-2010, 11:39
In order to make it a legal hostel that is in compliance with health and safety laws, $70k is cheap. There are very few hostels along the trail that I encountered that were even close to meeting even minimal standards. For those who ran on strictly donations, they might get away with not getting sued if there is a problem, but for a facility that charges and needs insurance, they have to meet life safety code and that usually involves fire walls, possibly sprinkers and central fire alarms and multiple means of egress. If there is a kitchen, there are a lot of other requirements. Now throw in ADA (americans with disability act) compliance, generally required for public accomodations and the price keeps rising.

Jester2000
09-27-2010, 13:11
In order to make it a legal hostel that is in compliance with health and safety laws, $70k is cheap. There are very few hostels along the trail that I encountered that were even close to meeting even minimal standards. For those who ran on strictly donations, they might get away with not getting sued if there is a problem, but for a facility that charges and needs insurance, they have to meet life safety code and that usually involves fire walls, possibly sprinkers and central fire alarms and multiple means of egress. If there is a kitchen, there are a lot of other requirements. Now throw in ADA (americans with disability act) compliance, generally required for public accomodations and the price keeps rising.

Since you write "if there is a kitchen," I'm going to presume that Iron Masters wasn't one of the hostels you visited. It's the stated goal of CPC to "restore" the building, and that goes to my point about how much they need to reopen the hostel. They certainly don't need to restore the building in order for it to be an operating hostel.

You are absolutely correct to say that $70,000 would be cheap, if you were addressing a building that had never been used as a commercial hostel, and thus had never been inspected. But this was a hostel being run by AYH, and I know it must have passed inspections in the past. How do I know that? Because a few years ago friends of mine, while on a volunteer project at the hostel, worked to bring their electrical system and their fire exit lighting up to code at the request of the operators.

The building already has multiple marked means of egress, proper number of extinguishers, etc. It's not like a hostel that was being run out of someone's house. It also has multiple handicapped accessible entrances, parking spaces, bathroom, and all services offered (bunkhouse, dining area, kitchen) can be accessed by wheelchair.

Because it is an old building, I suspect the weak point as far as inspection goes is the electrical, and that's expensive to deal with. But, having been an AYH hostel in the past, it must have passed inspection previously.

I also note that on August 14th the CPC was having a volunteer day described by them as the "Final Push to Restore the Ironmaster's Mansion," requesting help with "landscaping, priming, taping, sanding, spackeling, and touch-up painting." Sounds like what you do at the end of a project, not the beginning. So what's changed? Maybe they had an inspection and didn't pass? I don't know.

But before I donate any money to this project, I'd certainly want to know exactly what the needs are, how the money will be spent, and where in their priorities AT hikers fit.

Adayak
09-27-2010, 13:53
It's going to take a very generous donation from someone to keep this hostel open. I'm not sure if they has been addressed in the past, but are there any grants that can be applied for? Or public funding? Or the Pepsi Refresh Project haha?

IronGutsTommy
09-27-2010, 14:10
yeah their best bet would be to make full financial records clear and available, as with any bailout. then they should hit up facebook and twitter, the way most charities and people gain sponsors
but yeah, hostels come and go. since most hiker traffic is for half a year at best, these places need to multitask. the hostels that seem to do best incorporate an outfitter, short term food store, something, anything, to make them viable to their local community. in thin times, whether it be winters or resessions, businesses need local support to stay afloat.
most hostels dont offer anything to the local community. most residents dont need a bed or shower, and if they have relatives visiting surely they put them up at their house or a proper motel/hotel
sounds like this hostels time is short. sad but usually prevented. I am a chef in michigan, and work near CMU college. in the summer businesses suffer. residents, workers and businesses pool their seasonal resources and plan ahead for the thin times. those that dont, disappear

Andy CPC
09-29-2010, 14:45
Hello, my name is Andrew Hart and I’m with the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy. I want to provide an actual voice from the Ironmaster’s Mansion project so that everyone in this forum can be informed of our goals and struggles. The PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources asked CPC to take the property over after the Delaware Valley Youth Hostel Organization, operating the mansion closed it in May, 2010. It is our intention to open it as: a small hostel for hikers, scouts and other groups; an educational facility; a history center; and a community resource for meetings, weddings, reunions, etc. to ensure sustainability. However, we are struggling with the initial funding and absolutely cannot do it by ourselves; we need your support and generosity to help us preserve this beautiful Mansion.

Andy CPC
09-29-2010, 14:52
The Ironmaster’s Mansion was in major disrepair, but due to the generosity of donors, volunteers and Lowe’s, this project is well underway. The mansion will charge hikers, so peakbagger you are absolutely correct that the building must be brought up to code and that insurance must be purchased. In addition, it is also right to mention that hikers alone cannot provide sustainable revenue for the Ironmaster’s Mansion to operate as Max Patch notes. Therefore, part of the Mansion will be used for weddings, meetings, events, etc. as well as an educational center. As many of you know the Mansion not only provides showers, bathrooms, meals, but also serves as a mail drop for delivered supplies as an additional convenience to hikers. It will also offer a place to clear your head and explore with the proposed history center and underground passageways.

Andy CPC
09-29-2010, 15:06
Jester2000, In terms of the “Final Push To Restore The Ironmaster’s Mansion,” it was a way to have most of the volunteer work completed including painting, landscaping and minor repairs. However, the kitchen renovation will require licensed plumbers, electricians, among others. The windows and possible alternative forms of energy must be completed by trained professionals.



In terms of the cost of this project, the $70,000 number comes an early estimate. The kitchen was estimated to cost $25,000, Fire Alarm $10,000, Windows $30,000 and $5,000 for paint. The most recent estimates from the kitchen cost of $30,000 to renovate and bring up to code and the new estimate for the energy efficient windows at $40,000. An educational/history center (est. $25,000) and the possibility of exploring alternative forms of energy will add cost, but may be covered with grants. The paint ended up costing close to $9,000! I'm sure you all have started projects and soon realize there is more time, money and sweat involved.

Andy CPC
09-29-2010, 15:08
While we all know this is a tough time in the economy, any donation would be greatly appreciated. We need everyone’s help to preserve the Mansion for the hikers and the community. Please visit our website for more information and if you wanted to consider offering financial help: www.CentralPaConservancy.org (http://www.centralpaconservancy.org/).

Andy CPC
09-29-2010, 15:17
Misconseptions = Misconceptions

Jester2000
09-29-2010, 15:52
Andy --

Thanks for the info! I do have a question regarding the final item I listed in things I wanted to know. Where do hikers fit in the CPCs overall plans? For example, how many hikers will the "small" hostel accomodate? I know it is early in the process, but do you have any idea what they plan to charge?

Finally, and this is foremost in my mind as far as where hikers fit:
Most weddings take place in April, May, and June. Many AT Section hikers hike in PA during this time. If there's a wedding, meeting, or event is the hostel portion of the building closed? Will there be any place (online) where we'll be able to find a schedule of events that will disrupt or shut down the hostel?

Thanks!

Mother Natures Son
09-29-2010, 19:20
According to Andy CPC, the amount to open the hostel is about 100K+. What routes are the group planning to raise that much money by spring? (loans, grants etc) Is the spring of 2011 a firm date at this point? :banana

kayak karl
09-29-2010, 19:38
bringing group homes up to code is what i do for a living. i normally deal with the mentally challenged, but a hiker hostel can't be a far cry. electric and egress are the most expensive. why is this property worth the money??

10-K
09-29-2010, 20:46
In order to make it a legal hostel that is in compliance with health and safety laws, $70k is cheap. There are very few hostels along the trail that I encountered that were even close to meeting even minimal standards. For those who ran on strictly donations, they might get away with not getting sued if there is a problem, but for a facility that charges and needs insurance, they have to meet life safety code and that usually involves fire walls, possibly sprinkers and central fire alarms and multiple means of egress. If there is a kitchen, there are a lot of other requirements. Now throw in ADA (americans with disability act) compliance, generally required for public accomodations and the price keeps rising.

There are only 2 places that I stayed at on the AT that gave me pause.

One was the Doyle in Duncannon.....

The other was the Lakeshore House & Pub in Monson. I've got this thing about sleeping over the kitchen of a restaurant though I did really enjoy my stay there.

kayak karl
09-29-2010, 20:58
There are only 2 places that I stayed at on the AT that gave me pause.
The other was the Lakeshore House & Pub in Monson. I've got this thing about sleeping over the kitchen of a restaurant though I did really enjoy my stay there.
there didn't give me a problem. seemed to be OK. i can give you a list of bad ones, but i don't think thats what this thread is about.

Jester2000
09-29-2010, 23:39
. . . why is this property worth the money??

Well, I suppose it depends on how you measure worth. It's on the National Register of Historical Places. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Jay Cooke lived there -- best known as the financier of the Civil War, he also had a hand in the creation of Yellowstone National Park.

It's a beautiful building.

As far as its importance to hikers, it's the hostel closest to the halfway point, the half gallon challenge, the AT museum. Countless hikers have stayed there, and it was (and may in the future be) the home of the PA Ruck. It has also been used by the ALDHA Board for meetings.

IronGutsTommy
09-30-2010, 00:15
same stuff different day. good luck on the funding, i only fund places by being a customer, not a pushover with deep pockets. still seems the mansion wont offer much to keep them economically viable. i wish them good luck but if they close theres numerous hostels on the trail better at money management that can use the business.

Andy CPC
09-30-2010, 14:33
Hikers are an important part of CPC's plan, as the hostel is practically on the halfway point of the Trail. The Ironmaster's Mansion will have 28 beds for hikers and plans to charge $25 per night which include a small breakfast (waffles, etc), a small dinner (spaghetti) and shower.

The weddings, meetings or events will most likely be during non-hours of the hostel. As you know, the hostel was open from 5pm to 9am, so there will only be a conflict if it is a night wedding. We are working on a website to provide any cancellations and additional information.

I can appreciate your concerns as they are most likely shared by many hikers, so thanks for putting them out there.

Andy CPC
09-30-2010, 14:39
Mother Natures Son-We have been reaching out to local businesses and individual donors to help us raise the money. So far, Lowe's has really stepped up with a large sponsorship, provided plants/lights and a significant amount of labor.

Jester2000
09-30-2010, 17:49
Andy -- Thanks for the reply!

Lone Wolf
09-30-2010, 20:59
I got an e-mail from the folks who run the Iron Master's hostel at Pine Grove state park. (Central PA Conservancy) As things stand, they need $70K+ more by spring to reopen the hostel. With the recession not even close to being over, does anyone think they can raise the money in time?

20+ years ago hostels were a novelty. they're expected now, every 50 miles it seems, along with shuttle services. pine grove furnace SP has a fine campground

jersey joe
09-30-2010, 21:07
20+ years ago hostels were a novelty. they're expected now, every 50 miles it seems, along with shuttle services. pine grove furnace SP has a fine campground
I think it all depends on the person's expectations too. Eight years ago when I hiked, hostels were a novelty to me. If I hiked again today, they would still be a bonus, and not expected.

IronGutsTommy
09-30-2010, 21:32
yeah thats the thing, theyre nice but hardly needed. in many areas the upgrade from a hostel to a private motel room isnt alot different. i just cant see pouring alot of money into a place that is in the business of making money. set yourself apart, augment with a small general store, organize hiker oriented activities. otherwise id prefer giving my money to those hostels more fiscally responsible

Jester2000
10-01-2010, 15:03
. . . but if they close theres numerous hostels on the trail better at money management that can use the business.


. . . otherwise id prefer giving my money to those hostels more fiscally responsible

Considering that CPC has only recently taken over management of the building, and has yet to operate it as a hostel, on what do you base your opinion that CPC is somehow worse at money management or fiscal responsibility than other hostel owners?

And as CPC is a tax exempt Conservancy, I think I disagree with the characterization of them as being "in the business of making money." It would probably be difficult to argue that the CPC has agreed to manage the building in order to make a profit.

I think the best way to look at what's going on at Iron Masters is that it's a historic building in need of renovation being operated by a land trust. Worthy of your donation? Maybe & maybe not, and that's up to each of us individually. That the CPC wants to continue the building's recent tradition of hosteling for AT hikers, and that some on this site might have fond memories of staying there, might encourage some hikers to make a donation who otherwise aren't that interested in the preservation of historic buildings.

There are many organizations and causes I choose to fund without being "a customer," and I don't think anyone would characterize me as a "pushover with deep pockets," not least because these pockets ain't that deep.

Each of us chooses what's important to us. If this isn't particularly important to someone on this site, that's cool. But I would hope that they wouldn't unnecessarily cast aspersions while choosing what's important to them & what's not.

BAG "o" TRICKS
10-01-2010, 18:16
The paint ended up costing close to $9,000!
Wow! That's a lot of $ for paint, just wondering did it include the painters.
At the last PA Ruck held there I spoke with Ron the hostel manager/caretaker about the situation regarding the hostel closing for needed repairs and possible reopening. He explained, as best he could at that time, what was needed to bring it up to code and to keep it open. Paint was one of the items he mentioned to me. I told him at that time that I was willing to see if I could get 'all the paint needed' donated by a national paint supplier but was told by 'other' sources that 'if and when' the hostel reopened it was going to be used for some of the afore mentioned activities but 'not' as a hiker hostel so I never replied back to him. I believe the hostel's management had changed hands between that time. Had I known what I know now (thanks Andy) I would have pursued this. Oh well. Just a thought. You never know who may have an outlet with the resources needed to help keep this place Historic building open, especially for the hiking community, for whom was my main concern. Wolf is right the campground in the park is now first class, with new flush restrooms and showers. I mentioned this on several occasions this past summer to large groups of thru-hikers passing through the park that paying for an area at the group site just across the road from the showers/restrooms would be much cheaper than paying for individual sites. Still the Hostel was and I guess still would be a nice alternative to camping for those who'd care to, plus we still need a home for the PA Ruck.

harryfred
10-01-2010, 18:32
Preferably in PA!

10-K
10-01-2010, 18:32
The hostel was closed when I hiked through there in '09 - whoever was managing it at the time had to take his son to the hospital or something like that and I stayed at the campground It was one of the better ones I've stayed at,

I think I stayed at Caledonia St Pk the next night and it was pretty good too.

kayak karl
10-01-2010, 18:35
in other words if it isn't important to us, shut up??

Lone Wolf
10-01-2010, 21:50
in other words if it isn't important to us, shut up??

it's just a building. not important to 99% of hikers. they should "camp" every nite. walkin' the AT these days is about nites under a roof and cell phone coverage.

IronGutsTommy
10-01-2010, 21:58
even if the property just changed hands, the state of disrepair was caused by lackluster management while other hostels kept theirs up to snuff.. i didnt say the new owners are at fault but hey dont take over a business or structure if you dont have the capital to fix it up. tear the sucker down, better uses for hard earned money

10-K
10-01-2010, 22:08
it's just a building. not important to 99% of hikers. they should "camp" every nite. walkin' the AT these days is about nites under a roof and cell phone coverage.

Or tenting where they'll deliver pizza. :)

chief
10-01-2010, 23:01
If the Iron Masters just had a bar and a couple of resident drunks, it might qualify for Extreme Makeover-Home Edition. They should be starting work on the Doyle any day now, right?

drifters quest
10-01-2010, 23:25
When I went through pine grove, we all took showers in the bathrooms at the park about .25 or less down the trail from the general store and camped right outside.

Tuckahoe
10-02-2010, 13:39
IronGutsTommy I honestly do not understand what your beef is here. First off the state of disrepair is not caused by poor management, but by the simple fact that historic buildings cost money to maintain and keep in a state of repair and up to code. Apparently the previous operators of the Iron Masters hostel could no longer afford to keep up such a structure. The structure is a pre-1830s house, which should be an indication of the difficulties maintaining the structure.

It seems to me that the current operators understand that the best way of maintaining the structure is to actually use it – thus its use as a hostel, conference and educational center, and event site. This is not going to be some sort of profit making venture for the new operators and they will at best break even.

Mother Natures Son
10-02-2010, 17:43
All this reminds me of many years ago when I was in a group that was trying to save the Bowmansville AYH hostel on the Horseshoe Trail. AYH wanted badly to save the historic building and their hearts were into it, but in time, lack of financing and poor condition of the building made them finally close it. I'm starting to wonder, given the economy, if we're going down the same road.

weary
10-02-2010, 23:29
The Iron Master's Mansion was one of 3 or 4 stops on the trail that I remember especially fondly. I've stayed there several times, since walking north in 1993.

It's a delightful historic building with a great kitchen for cooking meals, and a great place for just relaxing for a few hours or overnight. No other hostel on the trail struck me as nice.

Weary