County-Run RV Park Still Looking for First Profit

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May 19, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

There's nary an RV left at the Bull Creek Campground and Park today but Flagler County, Fla., investment in the property appears to be paying off, officials told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

"The campground has always been seasonal, even when it was privately owned," said Carl Laundrie, county spokesman. "That hasn't changed, but the 25 sites were full most of the winter."

The county bought the 29-acre property for $1.7 million in December 2007. Situated on the shores of Dead Lake at the end of County Road 2006, the six acres of boating and campground — the remainder of the park is hardwood swamp and lakefront — was improved with bigger lots, upgraded electrical outlets and, most recently, new bathrooms.

The county landed a $92,000 Florida Boating Improvement Grant in 2008 to replace the boat ramp and rebuild the bathrooms and showers at the campground. The grant paid for 72% of the work, with the county providing $36,750 to supplement the grant.

While the campground isn't turning a profit yet, Laundrie said it is breaking even.

"In the future, it may do better," he said. "This is what we wanted — a park that pays for itself."

On any given day, county parks department employee George O'Dell may be on hand to offer residents a two-bit tour.

"The new bathrooms were finished in December," he said. "There's even a handicapped-accessible shower."

He pointed out the lighted cutting table on the dock.

"The peak for speck (speckled perch, also known as crappie) fishing is from about the end of November to May," O'Dell said. "But locals still fish here all year for things like catfish."

Bait Shack owner Amy Habelka is preparing to shorten her hours for the summer season. The bait shop will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday and remain open until 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

"We do have some locals who fish every day," she said. "You can even catch some nice fish from the dock."

Four trucks with boat trailers attached were parked in the lot on this day. Hundreds of rosy maple moths, bright pink and yellow, sunned themselves on the end of the new bathroom.

The fact that it's slow in the offseason doesn't bother some. On a recent weekday morning, Evelyn Schmidt, who shared that she's in her 80s, was the only person in sight who didn't work for the county, Linda's Landing or Bull Creek Bait Shack.

"That suits me fine," she said from the porch of Linda's Landing as she dabbed her lips with a napkin. "It's very quiet here today. The season's winding down. The food here is still great."

Linda Ferguson, who opened the campground's restaurant two years ago as part of a public-private partnership, said business during the off-peak season has been picking up.

"We get a lot of bikes (motorcycles), and Palm Coasters are finding me," she said. "Some people are finding me by accident because this is a beautiful area for a Sunday drive."

Saturday is typically the busiest day of the week. The lakeside restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday.

"The fish sandwich and fish and chips are our specialty," Ferguson said. "We have homemade desserts, pie and apple crisp."

The plum of everything at Bull Creek, she said, is the serene atmosphere.

"There are great views and nothing out here will hurt your wallet," Ferguson said.

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