Mount St. Helens Eruption 'Victim' to Be Reborn

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May 21, 2012 by   - () 1 Comment

Cowlitz County officials believe they’ve found a cheaper way to add overnight RV camping to Harry Gardner Park in southwest Washington's Toutle Valley.

RV camping sites had to be scrapped from this year’s construction work after officials discovered they had to meet federal fire flow standards. Initially, they thought an underground water tank would be required and estimated the cost at $35,000, The Daily News, Longview, reported.

Further review, though, has determined there’s enough water flow there to just install a fire hydrant. That’s expected to cost about $12,000 to $15,000, said Ron Junker, the county’s parks director.

He hopes to have that work completed in 2013 to allow RV camping that summer.

Junker also hopes to see a pavilion constructed at the site and more picnic tables, fire pits and grills added in 2013. The county has applied for a state grant to cover the pavilion material costs, and then volunteers will build it.

The 80-acre park was heavily used before the May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens eruption, which buried the campground under more than three feet of mud and debris. Volunteers have restored the park, and the county has assumed control and continued the restoration. Overnight tent camping will return to the park this summer.

The park is named for Harry Gardner, who donated the original 10 acres in 1964.




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One Response to “Mount St. Helens Eruption 'Victim' to Be Reborn”

  1. Charlie Curry on May 21st, 2012 3:46 pm

    I want to share my experiences and opinions of Cowlitz County and the new RV Park/Campground that they are currently building. I built the Toutle River RV Resort in Castle Rock WA, it fell under the Cowlitz County RV Park Code 18.56. Building this park I faced 7 years of various County Permit delays. I believe that the average wait for our nearly 40 plus County permits was well over a year with many of these permits taking several years. If one views the County Department of Building and Planning permit data web pages the County has altered these dates to make it appear as if there were only minimal delays. That is not the case however.
    I still have three permits that the County refuses to issue, two of these are for Sewage systems which were previously fully permitted by Cowlitz County. The third is for an open air hot dog stand to be used in summer months. All three of these permits and uses were 100% APPROVED by County officials yet they will still not issue permits.

    Building and Planning officials at Cowlitz County routinely hold up permits for years unless you are one of those who plays their games in which case you get permits quickly.

    Cowlitz County always had a 100% no growth policy as far as my RV Park was concerned and in fact the director of Cowlitz County Department of Building and Planning Mike Wojtowicz told me face to face that I needed to find someplace else to build an RV Park and that I would Regret ever building in Cowlitz County.

    All Federal and State permits that my project needed on the other hand were issued promptly and in a professional manner.

    Delays caused by Cowlitz County Department of Building and Planning cost me several million dollars. In My opinion the Cowlitz County Department of Building and Planning is the most corrupt agency public or private that I nave ever encountered. Many others must feel the same as even the local Contractors association is about to file suit against this corrupt department. If you are to do a Google search for " Department of Building and Planning Fraud " I can almost assure you that Cowlitz County will always be at the very top of page one. What a wonderful reputation they have created for them self's all while creating a reputation that has driven off countless developers and investors who would not play their games.

    Toutle River RV Resort was required to put in a 100,000 gallon reservoir to meet fire code. In addition we have a second water source which is the resort swimming pool which has a gravity fed fire draft line that supplies an additional 40,000 gallons of water even in the event of a full power failure. We put in a massive fire flow system that fire officials have described as the strongest system that they have encountered, in fact we could supply more water than they could possibly pump , something that I am told is rare.

    After our fire flow system was approved , constructed, and inspected Cowlitz County decided they now wanted an additional fire main line and four additional fire hydrants installed, this despite our having approved stamped plan sets and letters from the Fire District with all approval stamps in place. One needs to know that our system was in, all roads were complete, finishing touches and landscaping were in place but Cowlitz County said dig it all up, install another 3000 feet of fire flow line, add 4 additional hydrants and call us when you are done. The County Fire said put hydrants here , here, here and here without ever even looking at the plans… was actually comical in a way.

    Many times I felt had I paid off these officials that everything would have been immediately approved. I don't play their games however and hired an attorney. Within a couple of days the County said that they had re examined our plans and were comfortable with what we had in place.

    Now just a few years later the County decides to build their own RV Park without many of the dozens of required permits including a fire flow permit. In fact if you read a few of the recent articles in the Longview Daily News the County has stated that they did not realize that water for fire flow was required at RV Parks. That is just a bold faced lie. This County routinely builds and remodels their own property with NO PERMITS WHATSOEVER including a recent $400,000+ remodel of Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center ( a County owned property ) that did not have one single permit of any type.

    The last time I looked none of the County's many commercial septic systems had ever been inspected despite County Codes that require even homeowners to do these inspections. The County actually owns a second RV Park which has not been required to meet any of the standards that other privately owned property's have faced. Even items as simple as putting simple $5 back flow devises on potable water faucets at this County park have been ignored.

    I am hoping that you will run my comments on what I feel is an extremely corrupt County Building Department. This County Building Department needs to be investigated by the US Department of Justice and the FBI. Washington State Auditors office recently acknowledged that building activity reports issued by Cowlitz Cowlitz Department are incorrect and greatly exaggerated yet The County has shown no concern. In 2007 and 2008 these reports exaggerated building activity in Cowlitz County by approximately 70 Million Dollars one year and 55 Million Dollars another year yet the County Commissioner have held no one accountable for these massive errors. How could this be.

    Despite these massive accounting errors in the County Building Activity Reports for 2007 and 2008 one would think that County officials may be cautious to assure future reports were accurate. Not so, the Cowlitz County 2009 Building Activity Report actually showed I believe 18 mobile home placement permits were issued by the County in 2009. These Mobile Homes had an average value of over $750,000 each ! One would think that the Director of this Department would have been fired long ago. Not so at Cowlitz County. In fact in the face of huge County wide budget cuts and lay offs recently I believe that the Department of Building and Planning may be the only department not facing any lay offs. This Department now has 24 full time employees to Handel just 51 permits per month ( April 2012 ) total…….If you do the math each employee Handels just a fraction over two permits per month. At least one can tell where they find the time to build RV Parks.

    I hope that you may print my response. The activities at this Building and Planning Department warrant a full scale federal investigation and audit. Its time that someone says hey, what happened to the 120 million dollars worth of buildings that you say were constructed in 2007 and 2008.

    These errors that the Cowlitz County Department of Building and Planning likes to refer to as embarrassing mistakes need to be carefully examined and I hope by publishing this letter you may help in getting that to happen.

    Sincerely Charlie Curry, Toutle River RV Resort, Castle Rock WA

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