Campground Would Serve Craft-Minded Seniors
The new owner of an old Shelby County campground near Boggstown, Ind., has some big plans, but also faces some big obstacles.
Brian Newton bought the Walnut Grove Campground in February and is attempting to fix it up — a huge undertaking because of the size of the 30-acre campground and the inherent difficulty of getting a campground up and running, the Shelbyville News reported.
"It's proved challenging," Newton said.
The campground has some issues with water and electricity utilities, and some of those issues had attracted attention from state agencies, which ordered it temporarily closed. That order still stands. Signs at the entrance of the campground warn people that the park is closed and that visitors are not welcome.
Newton's plan is to make the campground into a craft site aimed at seniors.
He wants to make it a place people can come in their campers and sit around and play the dulcimer and make hand-made brooms and the like. Newton himself has a broom shop with old-fashioned tools and old fashioned broom corn he uses to make old fashioned brooms.
"People want what's real," Newton said. "The crafts from the old days are what's real."
When Newton says he wants what's real, part of what he means is breaking with some of its recent past. It won't be a place to have a loud, all-night party.
"I want people to think of this as a positive thing," he said.
Tobacco won't even be allowed. He wants to bring the campground more or less back to its roots, from the late 1800s, a time, according to some evidence found on the grounds, when the grounds had settlers.
"You can see it if you've got the vision," he said.
Newton works with a broom press from around 1878 he found near Camden.
"It'd been sitting in a barn," he said. "Nobody had been using it."
He said he's optimistic he'll find a niche and like-minded people will come and enjoy the park.
Newton is a businessman who grew up in Carroll County and eventually found himself out west with a different venture. He said he wanted to find a campground to own, and he found Walnut Grove in his native Indiana.
There's no timeline on the reopening of the campground, in part because of the looming litigation.
When Newton bought the campground, several people were living on the approximately 30-acre property. He asked them to move, and most of them did.
One family, which has a 20-year lease on the land, refused. A tenant of a mobile home, James Huber, is taking him to court.
Huber didn't return a message for a request for comment and his lawyer, local attorney Peter DePrez, didn't want to comment.
Court records say Newton knew there were people living there when he bought it, that Huber has a lease and wants to pay rent. He considers Newton's plans as kicking him and his family out of their home. The lease says rent is $100 a month.
Newton's attorney, Brett Haacker, said he's arguing the lease Huber is living under isn't valid because it wasn't recorded at the Shelby County County Recorder's Office, like leases more than three years old should be. He said Newton is trying to get full possession of the land he bought.
The case does not yet have a trial date.
Whenever the campground opens and the roads and other infrastructure are fixed, Newton said he imagines it a peaceful place among the trees, with wildlife and a stream full of fish where people can get in touch with a simpler time.
"The park is going to be an experience," he said.