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‘Cabin fever’ spreads in Allegany State Park

A new strain of cabin fever is spreading through Allegany State Park, and it has nothing to do with aches, congestion or chills.

The 28 brand-new “cottages” added to the park’s current stock of 344 cabins are the first new lodgings constructed at Allegany in 15 years, built by a developer in the first privatization of park lodging.

The cottages were built along the Parallel and Bova trails, and each unit features a bathroom and shower, a fully stocked kitchen, two bedrooms and linen/towel service.

Although the pine-faced lodgings possess the rustic exterior expected by Allegany’s four generations of campers, once inside, it becomes obvious these are not your grandfather’s cabins.

“The counter space is phenomenal,” said Paulette Kaczorowski, 63, of West Seneca, who rented one of the new cottages in September with her husband, Walter Kaczorowski, 71. “It had cupboards and very pretty cathedral ceilings with ceiling fans. They are expensive, but to us it’s worth it. We’re a little bit older and just to have the comforts of the bathroom inside meant a lot. It had everything. We just pretty much had to bring food and clothing.”

The cottages were built last year by Mark Barbera of Allegany State Park LLC, and according to Empire State Development, they mark the first privatization of lodging in a 10-year plan for the park.

Under terms of the agreement with the state, Barbera transferred ownership of the 28 cabins after construction was completed. The park, in turn, authorized a 20-year lease for Barbera to manage them.

Like the other Allegany cabins, the cottages may be booked no earlier than nine months in advance and they are open year-round.

“The reception has been really good,” said Gary Quattrone, park manager. “The Parallel Trail cottages (on the Quaker Run side) were the first to come online last July, and 346 reservations were made between July and Jan. 23. The Bova cottages opened in mid-December and had a slow start, but are steadily growing in activity as the winter progresses.”

The 900-square-foot cottages are in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Each unit also offers a covered porch and a large indoor sitting area with two futons. The bedrooms are equipped with a queen-size bed and two twins with pillows and bedding. The units have propane heating.

The weekly rental per unit, originally $695, has increased to $750, or $187.50 a night.

Paul J. Crawford, a “traditionalist” who manages the park’s Facebook page, acknowledged the appeal of the new builds.

“A lot of people outgrew camping but they still like to visit the park,” he said. “These cottages give them the opportunity to do that. I really like the log-cabin siding of the new cottages. It’s always good to see new stock in the park. They are full-service cottages. Midweek they’ll come and change the linens and towels for you, but the price reflects that. It’s comparable to a three- or four-star hotel, more or less. You load up the cabin with 10 people and the cost is not so great.”

Phase II of Barbera’s project, planned for this year, calls for additional cabins and group camps.

“We do have some other building options under our license agreement that we are exploring to determine what exactly we will do,” he said. “It’s a little unclear right now. We are having some discussions with the park to try and figure out what is appropriate. We want to build what people want. It may or may not be this year.”

Barbera, a native of Buffalo’s lower West Side, camped often as a child with his family at Allegany.

This month, he implemented a promotional campaign that offers cottage campers a weekend discount.

“Embrace Winter; Spend a Night on Us” offers one free night to people who book three or more nights through March 31.

The free night will be refunded after a completed stay. Reservations are available through Reserve America at (800) 456-2267 (CAMP) or at the website www.reserveamerica.com.,

Allegany State Park is located west of Salamanca in Cattaraugus County. The park is divided into two sections: Red House and Quaker Run. Allegany draws 1.2 million visitors each year. The park’s entrance fee of $7 is in effect Memorial Day through Columbus Day.

“We don’t really do much during the week at this time of the year,” said Quattrone, the park manager. “People love to come here during the winter and they love to cross-country ski, but it’s all weekend-based.”

The Art Roscoe Cross-Country Ski Trail, the largest in Western New York, boasts some of the top trails in the Northeast. The trail is named after a park forester who was instrumental in the early development of Nordic skiing at Allegany.

Add 91 miles of snowmobile trails and an ice-covered Red House Lake, and the appeal of winter camping at Allegany is easy to understand, said John Sheehan, executive director of the Salamanca Chamber of Commerce.

email jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com