RV Park Plan Irks Forest Land Residents

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July 14, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

One hundred and sixty residents at Lakeview Park in Roosevelt, Ariz., are fighting to keep their homes on U.S. Forest Service land.

The residential park, which has existed since 1973, has become the focus of U.S. Forest Service interests to add extra RV spots around Roosevelt Lake. The creation of an RV park requires that the 160 mostly part-time residents of the current mobile home park have to leave the property, The Arizona Silver Belt, Globe, reported.

The Roosevelt Lakeview Park was originally built on a Special Use Permit approved by the U.S. Forest Service in 1973. Now the Forest Service is ending that Special Use Permit on Dec. 30, 2012, to clear the land for an RV park. The residents have been trying to meet with officials to ask why the need.

The Forest Service’s decision to turn Lakeview Park into an RV park dates back to 1997, when the government entity spent $42 million to construct 1,500 publically accessible improved campsites within the Tonto National Forest, of which 829 are located around Roosevelt Lake. According to Forest Service numbers provided to park residents, there is allegedly a need for more RV spaces.

Park residents counter, however, saying that the numbers show that occupancy rates of the improved sites fall dramatically short of 100%, with three weekends a year accounting for spikes in the average. According to U.S. Forest Service numbers, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day weekends show a high traffic rate of 90%, 75% and 80%, respectively.

The numbers also show that the improved sites have 60% occupancy during spring and only 40% during winter. Residents highlight that, according to the Forest Services own numbers, yearly occupancy rates average 50%, peaking on three holiday weekends. These three weekends represent 2.4% of the 365 total public access days.

The residents have now taken their cause to various government leaders on both the county and federal levels. Gila County Supervisor Mike Pastor has been a key player on the county level in bringing attention to the issue of the expiring Special Permit Use. He has listened and visited with park residents and sees the need to bring all the players to the same table to talk about a sustainable solution to the situation.

The issue of the park on Special Permit property is not new to the residents who have had to fight to keep their homes and comply with a number of requests made by the Forest Service over the decades. They have presented their cause to many legislators and now one is going beyond just listening. U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar sent a representative of his office to Lakeview Park on July 6 to meet with residents and collect their comments. Constituent Services Director Penny Pew took pages of notes as residents spoke of their concerns and questioned the motives behind the RV park plans.

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