Tom and Ellen Buck, who have owned and operated Mitchell's Point Marina since 2003, have announced plans to sell the Huddleston, Va.-based business.
In an email sent to tenants of the recreational vehicle sites at their campground, the Bucks confirmed rumors that tenants soon would have new landlords, Smithmountainlake.com reported.
"We are pleased to announce that we are in negotiations with Jeff and Debbie Prowse and Tim Dellis to sell Mitchell's Point to them. As you know, [they] have been operating the successful SML Boat Rental business at the marina for the last three years. They bring that expertise as well as exposure to most aspects of the marina, RV park, gas docks and restaurant. They share the passion for customer service and good business practice that will ensure that Mitchell's Point remains a successful venture."
Jeff Prowse, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, became a full-time laker after his final assignment at the Pentagon ended in 2009. Buck credited a 12-fold-plus increase in the business of SML Boat Rentals over the last three seasons, from $30,000 to over $350,000 per year, to Prowse's management style, expertise and enthusiasm.
Debbie Prowse teaches information technology in the Bedford school system.
"We live just two miles from the marina – one of the world's easiest commutes," said Prowse.
The date for exact transfer of ownership is yet to be determined, Buck said, but it will occur before the 2012 season. All aspects of the operation, including slip rental, Crazy Ian's Gas Dock, and ownership of the restaurant, will change hands.
The name "Mitchell's Point Marina" will remain. According to Prowse, Scott Heath, 51, and his wife, Ida Jo, operators of Sweetwater RV Park on White House Road in Moneta, will reopen the restaurant as Mitchell's on April 1. Their son, Scott Heath Jr., 25, and his wife, Hanna, will manage day-to-day operations.
"We will continue offering a family atmosphere, concentrating on quality food at reasonable prices and superb customer service," said Scott Heath Sr. "We plan to do some remodeling, including addition of a walk-up cafeteria window where boaters can get quick carry-out service."
The Heaths, who are applying for an ABC license to serve wine and beer, will begin accepting applications for employment after Jan. 1.
Buck cited the involvement with a new and similar business, Halesford Harbour on the former Campers' Paradise property near Hales Ford Bridge, as the impetus for the sale.
"Ian [Buchanan, who was gas dock operator and maintenance manager at Mitchell's Point] and I have been torn between these two projects and feel that we are not doing justice to either one. It was time to make a very difficult decision to sell our baby – Mitchell's Point. The one thing we were sure of was that we wanted it to remain an RV park, marina and restaurant and continue to provide the same or better services to you in the future," the letter stated.
Buchanan will work full time at Halesford Harbour.
The Bedford County Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit Monday (Nov. 22) that allows Sweetwater RV Park to be developed at Smith Mountain Lake near Moneta, Va. The 10-acre campground is slated for a 64-acre parcel near the lake that is owned by Scott and Ida Heath, the Lynchburg News and Advance reported.
The attraction, on White House Road near Virginia 122, is set to include 18 recreational vehicle sites, tent campsites and a store containing a game room, utility room, snack bar and bath house. A recreation area will also offer volleyball, basketball, badminton, horseshoes, kite flying and hiking.
Supervisors also approved rezoning 17 acres of the Heaths’ property to allow the project to move forward. The zoning switches from a combination of low density residential and agricultural residential to entirely agricultural residential.
All supervisors voted in favor of each request after holding two public hearings that drew several speakers, most who opposed the project. They raised concerns with traffic the campground may bring to the area and potential negative impacts on property values they said it could generate.
“Every day I see us losing more and more of the rural character,” said Peggy Johnson, who lives on White House Road and was in opposition. “And that bothers me.”
Charles Harris, a resident of nearby Ayers Road, said his main concern was traffic.
“They’re in a pretty big hurry there,” he said of drivers in the area, particularly in summer at the height of the lake’s popularity. “It’s a pretty dangerous place.”
Eric LaBorie co-owns Camp Karma, a nearby campground in Moneta that just completed its first year of operation. He said the primitive camping nature of his attraction and the RV camping of the Heaths’ site is a “perfect mix” for the lake.
“I am totally in favor,” LaBorie said during the hearing. “It’s going to bring tourist revenue into this area.”
LaBorie said the majority of Camp Karma’s visitors this year were from overflow at Smith Mountain Lake State Park and another campground that were booked to capacity. Most customers were from outside the county, he said.
The Heaths, who also live on the property where the campground will be located, formed a list of park rules that include “quiet hours” between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., a fireworks ban and no public display of alcohol or disorderly conduct.
Scott Heath said Monday the campground hopes to begin operating by mid-2011.