CONY Splits from ARVC over State Park Issue
Campground Owners of New York (CONY) is preparing to end its affiliation with the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), citing disagreements over ARVC’s willingness to offer free trial memberships to state parks as well as discounts to campground companies with multiple parks in multiple states, ARVC announced in a news release.
CONY’s decision caught ARVC by surprise, since ARVC’s board of directors had specifically given states the ability to “opt out” of both initiatives, according to the statement.
“This is called working together at the state and national level, as it should be,” said ARVC Chairman David L. Berg.
The CONY board met Monday and after considerable discussion voted unanimously to leave ARVC, Donald G. Bennett Jr., CONY executive director, told Woodall’s Campground Management.
“ARVC’s new initiatives were deemed by the CONY board to be in direct conflict of the CONY mission statement,” Bennett explained.
The CONY board deemed that ARVC’s membership offer to state parks would tend to harm private enterprise within the Empire State.
In New York, there are 118 state-run campgrounds which comprise 16,000 campsites, Bennett said, not counting two federal campgrounds and between 25 and 30 municipally owned and operated campgrounds. He estimated that 65% of state park money comes from the general fund.
CONY board members felt, as do some other state associations and park operators, that the state park offer was simply funding their competition.
“I don’t think this scab had to be picked off,” Bennett said.
Noting that ARVC currently reaches just 3,000 of the nation’s some 8,000 private campgrounds, Bennett added, “There was a lot of room to grow in our own sector rather than jump on this (state park membership).”
Bennett also subsequently resigned immediately as an at-large member of the ARVC board. He had chaired ARVC’s governance committee.
CONY had been a longtime ARVC member and has around 200 RV parks and campgrounds in its membership.
The CONY board will refund ARVC membership dues for the coming year it has already collected, Bennett noted.
The CONY board also encouraged CONY members to rejoin ARVC on their own if they desire, Bennett added.
“We’re not trying to take anything away from anybody, but we have heard loud and clear from a lot of members who want to have a choice. I think a prudent campground owner would belong to both,” Bennett said.
In the meantime, the CONY board has spent considerable time on strategic long-range planning to help improve the organization, Bennett said. “We will not spend time and resources on things that do not support our organization’s mission statement.”
More from ARVC Release
In the ARVC release, Berg said ARVC turned down a request by New York State Parks to participate in a trial membership in August after learning of CONY’s discomfort with the proposal. ARVC has also been sensitive to CONY’s concerns about the ramifications of having the national association offer membership discounts to campground companies with multiple parks in various states across the country.
“ARVC openly welcomed states to “opt in” or “opt out” without pressure of any kind, based solely on the fact that the state would receive increased park members and dues,” Berg stated. “In fact, when the motion was passed to authorize ARVC to negotiate this concept with multi park/multi state operators, it was clearly stated in the motion to ‘only pursue deals that are financially beneficial to both state and national.'”
Berg noted that CONY will remain a member of ARVC in good standing through the rest of the year and said they hoped CONY’s board would reconsider its decision during that time.
Berg also noted the numerous benefits CONY members receive as a result of their ARVC membership, including 20% to 30% discounts on supplies from Sherwin Williams, John Deere, Staples, Home Depot and other companies.
“Recently, we’ve added new benefits, such as wholesale pricing on the entire Skyline park model trailer line, which allows you to save thousands of dollars on just one purchase, most-favored-nation pricing on LP gas, and, soon to be announced, a simple, no-nonsense national blanket license fee agreement with the music companies to save money and cease, once and for all, the constant harassment.
“We are also currently working on several other national discount programs, such as Waste Management and satellite TV services with Dish Network, with pricing such as the motel industry enjoys, that can save our members considerable money as well,” Berg said.
ARVC has also made other improvements, which include hiring a nationally respected law and lobby firm in Washington, D.C., to monitor the daily flow of national and state legislation in New York and elsewhere that affects the private park business, and designing an entirely new Outdoor Hospitality Education Program, which ARVC will unveil at its annual conference in Savannah later this year.