Fiscal court to lease Camp Kysoc property

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By Jeff Moore

Carroll County Fiscal Court will lease the Camp Kysoc property in a move that will eventually allow it to be used for recreational opportunities and special events.

Cardinal Hills Healthcare, which operated the camp under its Easter Seals program, closed the camp last year because it was losing money and turned the property back over to the Kentucky Department of State Parks.

“We have worked out an agreement that is being put on paper now with the Kentucky Department of Parks and the Tourism Department for the county to take a lease on that property,” Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson announced at Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting.

He said the agreement should be in the county’s hand by early next week.

“The big thing is that we didn’t want it to get out of control of the local community,” Tomlinson said.

Since Kysoc closed in 2010, it has remained unused and Tomlinson said state parks doesn’t have the financial resources to do anything with it. “It’s so beautiful back in there. It’s really sad. You hate to see it sit there and run down,” he said.

From the county perspective, he said, fiscal court was concerned about how long it would sit there. At some point, the state could have declared it surplus and possibility subdivided it or sold it.

The state gave the county and a group that formed — Save Camp Kysoc — until this fall to work on options to take over the facility.

The county looked at acquiring the property, he said. However, under state restrictions surplus property cannot be sold for less than its appraised value. “We’ve got 90-some acres over there and I’m not sure what it would appraise,” he said.

“I know there are going to be a lot of questions about what are you intending to do with it and how are you going to make this work,” Tomlinson said. He explained that there will be a lot to be worked out.

But he pointed out that officials continue to hear calls for more recreational opportunities and quality of life enhancements for these areas.

“Certainly with the industrial base we have, I hear it all the time and I’m sure my court members do as well. We’d like to see that,” he said.

But don’t expect Camp Kysoc to return to what it was in its past.

“I think it is fair to say that we will never see Camp Kysoc like it once was,” Tomlinson said.

But fiscal court believes there is a tremendous number of opportunities for the camp.

Tomlinson said the county has held conversations with several groups and organizations on options for using the facilities.

The Hope Workshop was at one time looking to build a new facility, he said. There is the potential this program could relocate to Kysoc and modernize its operations.

Tomlinson said he’s talked to the group behind the Native American Arts and Crafts Museum that has a lease on property near the old ski lodge at the General Butler State Resort Park. This group, which wants to open an arts and crafts center, could find space in some of the former camp facilities and not have to look at building its own.

Another possibility is bidding out the horse rink at the camp for a small commission, he said. The group operating it would have to provide its own liability insurance.

Tomlinson said he has worked with the county’s insurance carrier and has developed the plan that the county will carry coverage for day-to-day activities, such as people walking on the nature trails.

But groups wanting to hold special events at Camp Kysoc would need to provide their own liability coverage. But for some activities, Tomlinson said insurance riders are tied to contracts for those wanting to camp, such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or a church group.

“I’ve heard a number of times about industries that would like to use that facility,” he said. The county would have to assess fees for these types of activities to help offset some of the costs.

The county wants to keep all of its options open for the possibilities Camp Kysoc offers.

Tomlinson said he stressed to the state tourism officials that the lease agreement must not “tie our hands on what we can and can’t do. We want it to be user-friendly. We want the public to be able to enjoy that beautiful facility there.”

The county is also working on the language in the lease to ensure it wouldn’t have any liability associated with an underground storage tank on the land.

“We’re in no big hurry to do anything with this,” Tomlinson said. “But it does give us the opportunity once we’ve got it under our guidance clean up work and that nature. I think there will be a number of volunteers that will really try to help us.”

He said County Jailer Mike Humphrey also has agreed to allow inmate labor to help get the facility back in shape.

There are many maintenance items that need to take place.

District 1 Magistrate Floyd Bowling said the county wants tokeep it in shape so people can use it.

Tomlinson said leaves on roofs need to be removed to prevent leaks and there are some large trees down that need to be moved.

“They’ve just not done much with it,” he said of what the state has done since it came back under the parks department’s control.

Once the agreement is in place, Tomlinson said he plans to meet again with the Save Camp Kysoc committee to work out options for using the several thousand dollars it raised.

Tomlinson said it will take a while to get Camp Kysoc back up and running. But he plans to keep the public informed on the progress the county makes with the property.