A Beachfront RV park lease deal seems still on track after a workshop meeting with Curry County’s commissioners.
Following a brief presentation, after questions from the county commissioners were answered, the consensus reached was to support going forward. “We are open to what is comfortable to the Port (of Brookings) Commission,” said County Commissioner Christopher Paasch.
The Port of Brookings and the Curry County Parks Department have been exploring the idea of the county taking over operations of the Beachfront RV Park in what appears to be “a win-win proposition,” according to County Commissioner Sue Gold.
The win-win part comes from the county’s ability to bring in funds to quickly return the Brookings-based RV park to full operations and to increase the capacity of the park through other upgrades.
Because the main restroom facility is not operational, camping currently is limited only to those sites where RVs can hook up to the septic system. Tent camping and dry camping are unavailable.
The campground is attractive to county officials because of its location at Sporthaven Beach … the only, or at least one of the only, RV camping sites directly located on an ocean beach in Oregon, according to Curry County Parks Department Director Josh Hopkins.
“It was built in the late 1960s and since that time has been home to numerous tourist activities,” Hopkins said. “It is a very big asset to the Brookings area as a whole, and promoting all the different tourist activities that go along with the town and what the port does.”
The campground is configured with 163 campsites altogether, which is important to note because the county would receive $700 to $1,000 per site each year from RV license fees, Hopkins said.
The RV registration fees are available only to state and county parks for maintenance and upkeep of campsites. Updating all of the electric service poles to 50 amps would be one of those planned upgrades. With the current 30-amp sites, a modern RV can’t “run a coffeepot and microwave at the same time,” Hopkins said.
The reporting period for requesting RV license fees is every two years, with the next report due this coming spring. If the county has a 20-year lease agreement signed by then, it would be eligible for the funding with that report, Hopkins explained.
To rebuild the restroom, the county could borrow funds with a loan from the county road fund, instead of having to rely on grant funding or a loan from a bank or private party. The loan would be repaid with interest, Hopkins said. An additional five RV sites would be installed to help offset the cost of the restroom.
The port’s subcommittee had some feedback to add to the proposal. The port wants to have approval for capital improvements. Because the property is still the port’s, Hopkins said, he didn’t see a problem with them having a say over the projects. “They already have a lot of these projects mapped out and planned for in their master plan,” he said.
The port also wants a 20-year lease instead of 30 years. Because the port already has the infrastructure in place, unlike other RV parks under consideration, such as the one at Social Security Bar, Hopkins and the commissioners agreed they were comfortable with the shorter lease term.
The port also said that maintaining the fishing piers should become the responsibility of the county. When asked by the county commissioners, port manager Gary Dillinger said the only maintenance required that he was aware of was recoating the substructure and filling potholes in the parking lot.
The port also wants to set default limits, with a predetermined minimum amount of what it will receive financially each quarter, because the RV park pays off past port debts.
“In looking at the financials over the past six years, the main thing that affects the revenues is some kind of catastrophic weather or wild fire,” Hopkins said. “The Chetco Bar Fire didn’t hurt them as badly as you would imagine with that going on. The money is here for this.
“Even if we maintain it only to where we are keeping up with the historical average, that’s still a decent amount of money for everyone to walk home with and keep being able to pay their bills.
“That being said, with a more focused management that specializes in campgrounds and RV parks, and as we are making improvements and upgrades to the facilities, we would be able to increase revenues while decreasing expenses, because we are catching up with a lot of the stuff that has been historically not as much of a priority when you are trying to run a port as well as an RV park.
“It is important to note this isn’t a situation where the county is coming in and taking over a broken system. As it stands, the port’s management of the RV park is good enough to turn a profit. We’re not coming in and ‘white knighting’ this, but just coming in and bringing an extra level of expertise.”
In addition to identifying the operational expenses and the minimum amount the port would receive, port commissioner Ken Range raised the question of how they would manage the transition period regarding the change in management.
With just a few questions left to resolve, the county is nearly set to begin drafting the lease agreement.
“I’m enthused,” said County Commissioner Court Boice, “because one of the toughest jobs we have is bringing the different parties, cities and different communities together. I think the attitude is, ‘How can we help? How can we mutually benefit?’
“It’s just a good day, as we bring our rural county and 20,000 people together.”