Adding tax dollars to the RV mix

It’s bad enough when someone wants to shoehorn an RV park into the midst of a relatively tranquil area, but so much worse given the outsized ambitions of many recent development proposals. Gone are the days of someone building a brand-new campground of 50 or 60 sites. Now it’s 250 or 300 or even more, with all the attendant traffic, noise and general disruption brought on by doubling, tripling or even quadrupling the local population on a summer weekend.

So can you imagine how much more aggravating it is when one such outsized proposal gets juiced by a $200,000 infusion of tax dollars even before public hearings have been concluded, an environmental impact study conducted or required permits issued? Let’s just say the air around Mayfield, New York, is even frostier than usual for this time of year.

At issue are plans by a local landowner, first detailed a year ago, to build a 300-site RV park and campground on a dead-end road at the southern tip of Great Sacandaga Lake, in upstate New York. The proposed Woods Hollow Campground would occupy 83 acres, a third of which are within the boundaries of Adirondack Park, and include a boat launch and docks, boat storage, beach access, a playground, swimming pool and splash pad, and a “community event center.”

As the implications of those ambitions began to sink in, local resistance mounted. An online petition opposing the project collected more than a thousand signatures, and a Save Woods Hollow website sprang up to disseminate information and rally the troops. A series of planning board hearings foundered repeatedly: a November hearing was canceled because the town failed to give timely notice, one scheduled for December was cancelled because local property owners were not properly notified, and a January hearing had to be recessed due to the overwhelming turnout. Planning board members conceded that they had been provided with “a lot of information” that would take time to digest, so tentatively scheduled the hearing to resume Feb. 16.

On Feb. 2, however, it was the Woods Hollow property owners requesting a delay, asking that their application be tabled while they update their site plan. Planning officials therefore have canceled tomorrow’s meeting and are scheduled to meet next on March 16, when the Woods Hollow Campground proposal may–or may not–be revisited.

But here’s the kicker: amid all this back-and-forth, the state of New York lavished $200,000 on the Woods Hollow project as part of its Regional Economic Development Council program. The December grant was one of only three bestowed on Fulton County, with the other two, totaling $213,750, going to the Village of Northville. The Woods Hollow money, the state asserted, “will be used to build a new and unique camping destination” that “will provide a safe and affordable getaway for families who want to reconnect with the outdoors while creating lasting memories.”

Those “lasting memories,” alas, have been created already in an increasingly distraught neighborhood. No word, meanwhile, on what will happen to that slug of taxpayer money if the lakeside campground proposal gets deep-sixed by the mounting opposition–and there’s no visible public concern about an apparently slipshod vetting process for grant applications, or discussion of the questionable use of taxpayer money to subsidize private developments, regardless of their potential economic contribution.

Author: Andy Zipser

A former newspaper reporter who worked at a variety of newspapers, from small community weeklies to The Wall Street Journal, I finished my "normal" work life as the editor of The Guild Reporter, official publication of the union representing newspaper workers. On retiring, I and my wife bought a campground in the Shenandoah Valley and--with the help of our two daughters and their husbands--operated it for eight years, first as a KOA franchisee and then as an independent family-owned RV park. We sold the campground in May, 2021, and live in Staunton, Virginia, a short walk from our grandsons' home.

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