2012-08-09 / Front Page

RV park staying at Fort Getty

Council votes 4-1 to reduce sites by 16 on northern tip
BY ALEXANDER RAEBURN

Fort Getty will continue to include an RV park according to a motion passed by the Town Council at Monday’s meeting, though the layout will undergo some changes in the coming year.

The motion to keep the RV park, introduced by Councilman Bob Bowen, was approved by a 4-1 vote with Councilor Ellen Winsor in opposition.

“I don’t think it makes sense to declare keeping the campground without considering all the contexts of what you’re doing and potential revenue sources,” said Win- sor. “So I think voting on chaotic planning isn’t an answer.”

Bowen cited the revenue received from the RV park as a reason to keep the campground. According to multiple estimates from town officials and council members at recent meetings, the annual revenue collected from the park is approximated at being between $400,000 and $500,000.

“I think it’s important to note that the economic analysis that we had done by Landworks Collaborative ... did evaluate a number of other options for the park, some of which will still be available to us with the RV park in place,” said Bowen. “I think we’ve done due diligence over the last two years and this is a viable option for the town.”

Council President Michael Schnack presented a comprehensive restructuring of the RV park during a slide show he prepared. Schnack’s motion, which was unable to garner the votes needed to pass, included, amongst many recommendations, a reduction of the amount of RV sites while shifting the layout of the sites on the east toward the western edge of the park, as well as removing the sites on the northern tip of the peninsula.

“The goal was to create more open space for residents,” said Schnack. “It’s the northernmost rows, north of the bathrooms, that when you go up there and walk around that park you’re feeling like they’ve taken over the entire peninsula.”

The second motion passed during the Aug. 6 meeting, which again passed with a 4-1 vote with Winsor standing in opposition, included the removal of 16 sites at the northern tip of the park. It also called for an established boundary. Town Administrator Bruce Keiser and his staff are expected to present a plan for restructuring the layout of the RV park.

Those who currently occupy the sites at the northernmost point will be allowed to move to other sites, which have previously been available for “transients,” or campers staying for short periods of time. This shift is scheduled to occur by 2013. It is unclear at this point as to whether transient sites will be available during this shift.

Another motion, which again passed 4-1 with Winsor opposing, directed Keiser to develop a plan for the reconfiguration of the RV park. Keiser is slated to respond with a plan by Oct. 1.

The town administration was also given the task of figuring out a parking plan that will include an area for boat trailers in order to clear up the eastern edge of the park where trailers are currently parked.

The motion declared that the administration would provide a solution to this issue by 2014. It was, again, passed with a 4-1 vote with Winsor in opposition.

The issue of what to do with Fort Getty now, and in the future, is a passionate subject for many residents, some of whom have chosen to speak before the council multiple times, like Mary Meagher, who previously chaired the defunct Fort Getty Master Plan Committee.

“I think your job as leaders of the community is two-fold,” she said. “One is to articulate a vision, whether it’s your own vision or whether it’s one that you develop ... with the community. I hope it’s the latter, a vision of what the town is, and what it can be, and through that vision you establish some goals. And there wasn’t really much talk about goals three weeks ago. I think that’s what happened three weeks ago. Stuff got confused and ... in the absence of any goals, you got caught up in the weeds of design.”

Councilman Bill Murphy said the council did have goals. “The goal is actually to try to get more use at Fort Getty by Jamestowners, and actually by other people because I’m not one to think that should be a Jamestown-only park. We do have a vision of Fort Getty. We do have a plan. We’ve been planning for 20 years.”

Said Councilor Mike White, “We do have professionals in our town administration. We have professional planners. We have a rec director. We have an administrator. Our town, every year, realizes a surplus. Let me repeat that: a surplus every year. This town is doing really good.”

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