Texas Oil/Gas Exploration Spurs RV Park Expansion
Camping experience comes in handy these days for Dave and Elaine Matney.
Dave, a senior engineer with Petrohawk Energy Corp., and his wife have lived in the Lazy Longhorn RV Park in Victoria, Texas, since June.
“We’re experienced campers, so this is basically an expansion of that,” said Dave.
Elaine said she is completely comfortable in the couple’s Keystone Laredo RV, The Victoria Advocate reported.
“We’ve always had an RV, so it’s not that big a deal. We had a little travel trailer before, so we moved up,” said Elaine. “We lived in an RV when we were building our house.”
Elaine said that several of her husband’s co-workers live in the RV park, so there is also a sense of community.
“There are people here we know and I’m not that far from home either,” said Elaine. The couple owns a home on five acres near Boerne.
The Matneys are among those drawn to the Crossroads in southeast Texas by the oil and gas activity who now call RV parks home.
New recreational vehicle parks have popped up in and around Victoria, dotting the landscape with residential accommodations for those working the Eagle Ford Shale.
From larger commercial enterprises to landowners with a couple of spare acres, RV parks are the domicile of choice for thousands of new-to-the-area residents.
In Yorktown, at least four privately owned RV parks have opened outside the city limits, including two owned by local businessman Pete Dlugosch.
Jim Reidel, owner of the 70-space Paradise Key RV Park in Cuero, said opening his park about eight months ago was simply a matter of being observant.
“I just saw what was happening between Karnes City and Cuero – the need for more places to accommodate these workers – and decided to put something in,” he said. “Cuero is very accommodating, very pro-business.”
Reidel said nearly 100% of his tenants are oil and gas industry workers, with about 80% pipeliners.
Cuero City Manager Raymie Zella said the growth is proving beneficial for the city.
Prior to the oil and gas boon, Cuero had two RV parks with about 50 spaces between them, Zella said.
“There have been three new ones and one of the original has added on, so there are approximately 300 new spaces between those,” said the city manager. “One just outside the city limits has about 25 spaces and there is another one under construction with 60 something spaces. Nearly 400 RV spaces have been added or are under construction.”
In 2011, the Cuero City Council passed an RV park ordinance, regulating the size of a park, trailer size and parking among other requirements.
Zella said the growth of RV parks has increased the city’s utility revenues.
“We treat the RV park as one commercial customer,” he said. “They pay us for all of the electric, water and wastewater as any commercial customer in Cuero would.”
In Victoria, the city-owned RV park at Riverside Park, brought in more than $21,000 in revenue during the 2010-2011 budget year, an increase of more than $7,000 from the previous year, according to figures provided by the Parks and Recreation Department.
The 18-space park has already brought in more than $9,000 since Oct. 1.
At the Dec. 20 city council meeting, Councilman Joe Truman hinted at expanding the park observing, “there appears to be room to do more.”
Councilman Paul Polasek also requested the city council discuss the RV park at Tuesday’s meeting.
Privately owned RV parks in Victoria are also benefiting.
“We stay pretty full now all the time,” said Wanda Wilson, host at the 90-space Dad’s RV Park. “I’ve been here about two years and the first summer we weren’t full all the time. And it’s more long term now, three months or more. It has definitely helped us.”
Erik Ganauser, owner of Lazy Longhorn RV Park, agreed.
“We typically have a full house this time of year with Winter Texans, but we have seen some influx in the summer,” he said. “It’s definitely been beneficial.”
Monthly rates at Victoria RV parks average between $350 and $400.
Those on the periphery of the Eagle Ford Shale activity are also seeing growth.
In Lavaca County, more than a dozen RV parks have been built or in the process of being built with an average size of about 14 spaces, said Kathy Shepard, county flood plain and septic coordinator.
In the unincorporated areas of the county, development and septic permit fees are $350.
In Yoakum, the city-owned RV park has expanded by 20 lots and stays 9% full, said city manager Kevin Coleman.
One private park with about 20 spaces has also been permitted in Yoakum adjacent to a local motel, Coleman said.
Hallettsville has seen expansion at the Lavaca Expo Association and at the Knights of Columbus RV parks and the construction of one new RV park, said city administrator Tom Donnelly. About 55 new spaces have been added there.