Developer Pitches Campground Plan
Madison, S.D., land developer Dan Lemme pitched a proposal to the Lake County Commission on Tuesday (Feb. 21) that would convert the county's existing gravel pit into a campground to eventually be sold to the state.
Lemme is among a group of investors who purchased the Sunset Harbor development. A portion of that development includes about nine acres that the previous developer obtained from the county, the Madison Daily Leader reported.
The gravel pit is located near the south shore of Lake Madison on county-owned property. The property was first obtained by the county in 1893 as a 160-acre lot and was used as the Poor Farm. Approximately 95 acres of the land is rented for farm land, part has been used as the county gravel pit since 1983, and the shoreline area is designated as a public access.
Lemme said that when he looked at the nine acres of land that was originally part of the county property, he started exploring ways to use it and came up with a campground that encompassed the existing county gravel pit.
"I thought it would be really great to have a campground there," Lemme said. "It would be the only campground on that side of the lake."
Lemme said there is some gravel yet to be mined, but the majority of the gravel pit is mined and could become an area the public could enjoy.
The concept presented includes a campground that meanders from SD-19 to the east; the continuation of the bike trail through the park area; and the creation of a pond in the middle of the campground. The illustration provided shows about 80 campground spaces.
Lemme said his vision includes obtaining the county's blessing to provide the property for development; selling the remainder of the gravel, which could be used for the upcoming SD-19 project; putting in the necessary infrastructure and roads needed for the project; and then selling the finished project to the state.
"It's a long-range enhancement," said County Commissioner Chris Giles. "But my concern is that it remains public. This would propose ownership going to the state."
Virtually all the commissioners agreed that the proposal was an interesting idea.
"I shudder to think that we lose control of our beach," said Commissioner Kelli Wollmann.
Commission Chair Scott Pedersen said the decision was too big for the commission to make without public input.
"I would like to see a designated time for public input," he said.
Lemme said he estimated that the project could cost as much as $3 million. In the event that the county chose not to move forward with the project, Lemme asked if the county would be interested in purchasing the nine acres.
Commissioners didn't immediately respond, but Pedersen later said there was no advantage to the county purchasing that strip of land back from the development. The nine acres was originally purchased from the county for $100,000, a portion of which has been invested in the development of the public access. Lemme said he would be looking to sell the nine acres for what the county sold it for initially.
Commissioner Dan Bohl said he was leery about the idea but leaning toward being in favor.
"It makes a good place look better," he said