South Texas County Gets 14 New RV Parks This Year
In his younger years, Bruce Sugarek was a welder in the oil fields in South Texas.
At 82, he is now retired – well sort of, the Bee County Bee-Picayune reported.
“I am more tired than retired,” he said chuckling.
He is among the numerous other residents now providing housing for the workers of the Eagle Ford Shale industry.
Throughout this area, small RV parks have popped up in once vacant lots.
In Saturday’s Bee-Picayune, five companies listed RV parks with open spots in the area.
County Judge David Silva said he has seen these parks sprouting up throughout the county.
“You can’t drive between Beeville and anywhere that you won’t see RV parks and signs,” Silva said. “Some people have them next to their houses and some of them don’t.
“Everybody seems to be getting in on the action.”
Ron Fritz, with the county’s community affairs department, said that since January, 14 new RV parks have been built.
This is up from, well, zero during the past few years.
“This is something new to Bee County,” Fritz said. “These things are popping up like mushrooms because of the people working in the Eagle Ford Shale kingdom.”
The county first began seeing the influx of people at the first of the year when the Eagle Ford drilling kicked into gear.
“The whole problem was the lack of housing in our area,” Fritz said. “Guys were staying all over and driving over here to work in the field.”
For some, the opportunity to cash in on the need for housing was too tempting to pass up.
Bruce Munoz opened his RV park off U.S. Highway 59 only a few months ago and it’s already full.
“I have people still calling me,” he said. “I don’t have any more spaces open.”
That could change though.
“That is why I am thinking about in the future making it bigger,” he said. “But that is in the future.”
All of his residents are oil field workers but he hopes that when the boom subsides, he will be able to continue operating the park — just with a different clientele.
Situated just east of the city, the RV park he said is in a prime location to attract travelers during hunting season.
Some, like Sugarek, just fell into the park business by happenstance.
About a year ago — give or take — he and his wife, Dorothy, opened Sugarek Trailer Park just south of the city off Farm-to-Market Road 888.
“When I started working on the park, people were looking for places,” he said. Now, there are plethora of RV parks scattered throughout the community.
As Sugarek worked to get more slots open in his park, he saw more and more people opening their spots.
“They were popping up like popcorn,” he said.
Even his neighbor beat him to the business, putting in about a dozen spots for portable houses at the first of the year.
The biggest problem, and yet also the biggest perk, is the distance his park is from the city and the Eagle Ford Shale work.
“I think a lot of people want to go close to work so they don’t have to drive so far,” he said. “Those that work for companies that pay vehicle expenses, they don’t mind the drive.”
Some are long-term residents, eight months so far, but others only stay a day or two.
“I had one stay overnight. One stayed two months,” he said. “It all depends on where they are working.”
Unlike some developers, Sugarek actually didn’t foresee his property as a haven for oil field workers needing a place to rest their heads.
“If I did, I would have had it built two years ago and been in on the first of it,” he said.
Instead, it was just that a family from Louisiana rented a house he owned and wanted to move their parents closer.
So Sugarek created a couple of RV spots on the property.
Then a man driving by stopped and questioned him about his work.
“I noticed you have RV spots. Do you have any more left?” the man asked Sugarek.
“All I have to do is hookup the septic system and electricity,” Sugarek said to the man.
“He said, ‘I want it.’”
The man moved in a week later.
Sugarek is quick to point out that building an RV park isn’t as a easy as some would think.
Fritz reminded that creating a park is no small investment.
“You are probably looking at an investment of $15,000 and that might get you 10 spaces,” Fritz said.
The state too has regulations and permits. Sugarek took the time to ensure that everything he has in compliance.
“They act like you don’t have sense enough to pour water out of a boot,” he said jokingly.