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Board Flip-Flops, Kills RV Park Plan

March 26, 2008 by   - () Leave a Comment

Plans for a recreational vehicle park in Richmond, Ky., unraveled Tuesday (March 25) as the city commission acknowledged citizen opposition to the plan.
In a surprise turnaround, city commissioners voted 4-0 to rescind a lease to build the RV park at Camp Catalpa in the Lake Reba Recreational Complex, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Plans originally called for the development company, Lakeview RV Park LLC, to build a 100- to 150-space RV park. The company would pay the construction costs of $1.5 million to $2 million, said Allen Grant, the developer who proposed the plan, and the city was to receive 10% of the park’s gross income.
The city commissioners unanimously approved the no-bid lease Feb. 26.
That vote sparked a grass-roots movement. A non-profit group called Save Camp Catalpa formed in response to the RV park plan. Members said the city hadn’t given the public adequate opportunity to comment on the land deal.
Commissioners said they hadn’t realized there would be so much opposition to the RV park.
“I think as a commissioner, I’m man enough to say I made a mistake. Maybe not a mistake, but a bad decision,” said Commissioner William Strong, who made the motion to rescind the RV lease.
Commissioner Kay Jones, who seconded Strong’s motion, said she didn’t consider Camp Catalpa to be a safe, clean place and thought the RV park could change that.
“It is not a pristine forest area,” she said. “We have a dump there that we need to pick up.”
But Jones said she realized the park was used more than she originally perceived, after speaking with parks and recreation officials.
“With the input of the public, I think we have changed our minds,” she said.
Mayor Connie Lawson, who had previously supported the proposal for the RV park, abstained from the vote because no one in favor of the project had a chance to speak at the meeting.
The commission allowed Beverly Wickersham, president of Save Camp Catalpa, to briefly share his group’s opinion at the meeting, although he wasn’t on the agenda.
Grant attended the meeting, but he said he didn’t speak because he was not on the agenda.
“My main thought is that the Save Camp Catalpa group … accused the city commission of not going through proper channels, which we did,” he said. “What amazes me about it all is the very thing they accused the city commission of doing, they asked them to do today.”
Grant said he had about 800 signatures of RV park supporters, but he doesn’t know whether he will try to build the park elsewhere.
The 15-acre Camp Catalpa borders Lake Reba. It includes a disc golf course and a nature trail. The area was recognized as a bird sanctuary in the 1970s, according to Richmond Parks and Recreation.

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