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Springfield’s Double J Campground Under New Owners

March 21, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

The new owners of the Double J Campground & RV Park, one of the oldest campgrounds in the Springfield, Ill., area, plan to double the size of the facility in the next five years, the Springfield State Journal-Register reported.

Larry Fons and wife Elizabeth completed the purchase of the campground on the Interstate 55 frontage road south of Chatham early this month.

It’s a return to Illinois for Larry Fons. He grew up in Kankakee, and now is waiting from his family to complete the move from Florida.

“My family and I have been camping for years,” said Fons. “I’m a Boy Scout, an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout leader. Two of our three sons are Eagle Scouts. Our family has always been involved in outdoors things.”

The campground opened in 1970 as the Safari and later operated as the Holiday Campground. The most recent owners, Jerry and Jeri Francis, changed it to the Double J about 10 years ago.

Fons, 49, said he will keep the name. The campground is scheduled to open for the season April 1.

Elizabeth plans to relocate from the Fort Lauderdale area after a middle son graduates from high school this spring. Their 9-year-old will also make the move to Springfield.

Fons said he’d been tossing around the idea of running a campground for at least a decade, while working in computer production and operations. But he said the search didn’t get serious until the second son was ready to leave high school.

“We developed a list of cities we wanted to live in, and Springfield was kind of the classic town. It’s not a big town, but it’s not a small town,” said Fons, who found the Double J through an online real-estate listing. It was purchased with the help of a U.S. Small Business Administration loan.

In addition to doubling the more than 120 camping and RV sites in the next few years, Fons said RV parts and accessories will be for sale. He does not plan to revive the RV leasing and sales business, which was phased out by the previous owners.

Fons said the couple plans to install a basketball court and a second pavilion to be used for community events.

“I want the campground to be a part of the community instead of just a stop on the expressway,” said Fons.

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