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City to Beef Up Municipal Campground

October 8, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

The North Adams, Mass., City Council on Tuesday (Oct. 13) will be asked to authorize up to $150,000 in borrowing to update Windsor Lake (Fish Pond) and its campground, iBerkshires.com reported.

Mayor Richard Alcombright told the Finance Committee on Thursday afternoon (Oct. 7) that the money would be used to revamp the two bathroom buildings at Historic Valley Campground and build a new concession stand and bathroom facility closer to the beach.

“The idea is how can we renew the excitement and enthusiasm about the lake,” said the mayor. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful place.”

Alcombright said the two bathroom buildings built in 1969 are in a state of disrepair; the concession stand and public bathrooms at the lake “are in deplorable condition, they are embarrassing quite honestly.”

The concession and facilities were built in 1959. They are now located far away from the public beach area as is the playground equipment.

“It’s inconvenient, it’s old, it’s nonfunctional,” said the mayor. “Considering the idea is to enhance the lake, to remarket the lake [we would] build a new concession/restroom building on the green space as you walk toward the beach.”

The estimated cost for refurbishing and making the campground bathrooms handicapped accessible would be $60,000; building a new one-story concession modeled after the one at Noel Field about $70,000 to $80,000. The playground would be moved and needs new equipment.

A possible beach volleyball court could be put in but Windsor Lake Recreation Commission Chairman George Forgea said that would not be included in the borrowing. “There may be other ways to do that.”

A lot of the exterior work would be done by McCann Technical School students and most of the rest done by city workers. The cost would be primarily materials.

Revenues from the lake and campground go into the general fund. Forgea said the campground “is nowhere near the capacity of the revenue it could generate.” But the park is in dire need of upgrades beyond just the bathrooms: its roads and buildings need serious upgrading as do the sewer and electrical.

“The wiring goes back to 1969,” said Forgea. “We had several campaers who came up and found we only had 20-amp service and turned around and left.”

The campground isn’t prepared for the larger campers and their multiple appliances. Forgea said the idea isn’t to turn the campground into a “Disneyland” but to make it attractive to the types of people who are coming to spend money at places like the local museums and theaters. They’re not coming in tents, he said.

Of the park’s 100 campsites, 48 were occupied by seasonholders but the remaining 52 had only a 30% occupancy rate.

Some changes are already under way. After operating on a cash-only basis for decades, campers will now be able to use charge cards, make reservations online and, more importantly, be required to make deposits. A new management team will take over in the spring as well.

Finance Committee members were in favor of the investment because of the likely future return.

“Any money spent on the lake is money well spent,” said committee Chairman Michael Bloom.

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