Agency Weighs Campground Privatization

March 31, 2008 by   - () Leave a Comment

Martin County (Fla.) Commissioners on Tuesday (April 1) will consider a proposal that could lead to private operation of Phipps Park Campground, a county-owned recreational vehicle facility located in Stuart, Fla.
But area residents say adding a “KOA-like park” — and doubling the existing operation — will increase traffic and impact their neighborhood. And two men are organizing neighbors to attend the commission meeting and protest the plans, according to TCPalm, West Palm Beach.
County officials are looking to close or place in private hands 14 other parks because the Parks and Recreation Department must reduce its $7.6 million 2008 budget by $1.2 million to meet its goal for the 2009 budget.
Phipps Park, which was filled with Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers for temporary housing after hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma, is not on the list of 14, but it loses an average of $10,000 a year.
Stuart RV Park LLC proposes to increase the 60-site RV park to 150 sites with full hookups and other amenities. It would keep the existing boat ramp and playground open to the public.
The company would have a 20-year lease with a 10-year option. Martin County residents would get a 10% discount on camping fees. Stuart RV Park LLC would pay an average of $59,000 per year — 5% of the Parks and Recreation Department’s gross income and a total of $1.18 million during the first 20 years — to the county.
But neighbors are against the plan. And County Commissioner Lee Weberman said: “This is not the time to take on an initiative like this.”
Parks Administrator Randy Phillips said the proposal is tentative at this point. If the plan is approved, Stuart RV Park would target Nov. 1 to open. If approved, parks and recreation staff would enter negotiations with the firm to arrive at final figures and contract provisions.


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