County Encounters Snags in RV Park Takeover

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July 19, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

This summer has been a season of change for the 90 acres of campgrounds and woods known as Sycamore Ranch near Marysville, Calif.

Once a privately owned park for recreational vehicles, the site by the Yuba River has been a work in progress since Yuba County acquired it two months ago, the Marysville Appeal-Democrat reported. But despite the disruptions of repair work and a rearrangement of the campground, managers and officials say visitors have continued to come out to the hideaway in the foothills 13 miles east of Marysville off Highway 20 — and hold out hope for more business in the years ahead.

Yuba County bought Sycamore Ranch in May, paying its former owners $575,000 from fees it charged developers during the home construction boom of the early 2000s. Though the county community services department has kept the park open — and even taken overnight reservations for nearly all of the summer — visitors have had to make do without electricity while re-wiring work has progressed, part of what managers call part of a slate of long-deferred repairs.

"Things are moving along, but after this summer when they work the kinks out, it'll be a good place," said Sandy Prince, who with her husband, Tim, lives at Sycamore Ranch as a caretaker. "The park can really fill up on holiday weekends; about the only thing stopping us is the electricity."

Electrical service is expected to return in the first half of August, according to Ryan McNally, county parks and recreation coordinator.

Though the need for overnight visitors to bring generators has cost the county some business, McNally said Sycamore Ranch has averaged about 20 camping groups a week since the county takeover — with free daytime use adding to the number of visitors.

Down a gravel driveway from the Princes' trailer, about 45 members of the Church of the Firstborn in Sacramento enjoyed the tail end of their annual weekend in the foothills. With the group having finished their morning worship under a nearby arbor, teenagers threw metal washers during a horseshoe-like game while some of the women prepared lunch on their camp grills.

But this church group's visit to Sycamore Ranch — its fifth — was likely to be its last, as members said the county's division of the campground into daytime and overnight sections would force them off their favored, secluded spot after this year.

"Because of having to move over there, we'll probably look for another place," church member Jerry Rossiter said, suggesting members might visit another campground in September to look for a new vacation spot. "We were willing to pay even more (to stay), but the county said they're using this for day use only."

Farther down the driveway, another group of visitors — some of them new to the park — welcomed the afternoon with a splash, some of them literally.

A dozen members of the Harryman family and some friends gathered at the far end of Sycamore Ranch for an afternoon picnic to celebrate Connor Harryman's ninth birthday. As the group waited for more relatives to arrive, the Marysville boy didn't wait to celebrate, wading into a branch of the Yuba River while his younger brothers and friends rowed out in an inflatable raft or hurled themselves into the water in cannonball jumps off a rope swing.

However half-finished the campground fixes might be, one of the visitors genially accepted the company, the sight of the nearby Yuba, and the refuge from the 102-degree heat.

"It's just the shade and the water — it's amazing here for how hot it gets," said Cara Gray, a Castro Valley woman whose boyfriend's mother lives in nearby Browns Valley. "I was here years ago, and it was beautiful. Now it's still beautiful — and it's free."

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