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It is more than disappointing to see that Carrollton City Council is already considering going back on a commitment made to local residents when the concept of developing an RV campground on the banks of the Kentucky River was considered and adopted last year.
At a special meeting last week, city council discussed a resolution that would offer discounts to those who stay for 15 days. That’s a great idea. It might inspire folks to visit our city and take in our region’s natural beauty for more than a few days at a time.
However, council then went on to discuss allowing long-term stays by folks, such as contractors in the slower winter months, as a way to bring in revenue. While this proposal has not been finalized, it appears they might opt to leave that decision to the discretion of the mayor. This is expected to be on the council’s agenda Monday, June 11.
At public meetings last year, local residents who were concerned the campground could become a “tent city” or a “trailer park” were told this would not happen at Two Rivers Campground.
As a resident of Carrollton who lives just three blocks from the RV park, this is not something I want to see in my city or near my home.
We were assured this would not be the case in a public discussion meeting in March 2011, during which the master plan for Point Park, which includes the campground, was being considered.
While other parks have year-long campsites, The News-Democrat reported in a March 23, 2011, article, that Mayor Gene McMurry assured everyone that Carrollton’s park will rent spaces for two weeks, maximum. “Our object is not to make money out of it, but to break even and get people into Carrollton,” he said. “This will not be anything permanent.”
The city and the mayor must stand by this commitment. The city has built a top-quality campground. Let’s keep it that way.
Our city already offers plenty of rental property for people who want to come and work in the area. In fact, more than 50 percent of our households here are rental — a much higher number than in other communities.
It is ironic that the city might consider allowing these RVs to come in for extended stays when the city’s zoning laws do not permit mobile homes in any of its residential districts. Manufactured modular homes are only permitted in the Residential-3 zone, and as a conditional use in other residential zones.
It wouldn’t be fair to full-time residents if we let this facility to become something akin to a trailer park, even if that is just in the off-season months. Opening the park to long-term stays could lead down a slippery-slope.
With this possible action, whether it is decided by council or the mayor, it opens the door to possible year-round living at the campground. Let’s not take a step in that direction.
A final thought, I am somewhat disturbed that all this comes just a month after the RV park opened.
What lies ahead for the park?
Its construction has clearly put financial restraints on the city, eating up a good chunk of its reserve funds with cost overruns of around $300,000 for the nearly $1.8 million project.
We’ve already seen delays in constructing the river walk and purchasing a fire truck in the budget discussions this year.
If city leaders are desperate to recoup money from the campground, let’s pursue avenues to bring tourists to our city to enjoy the natural beauty of staying at the confluence of the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers.
Market the campground and give it time to get on solid footing. This is what any new business has to do — and that’s what the city is now undertaking. It is running a business.
But first, city council needs to reject the resolution that would allow long-term stays at the campground. Live up to your commitments from last year to limit stays to just two weeks.
Jeff Moore is publisher of The News-Democrat and The Trimble Banner. He resides in Carrollton, Ky.