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Moriah, Port Henry seek campsite grant

Town, village want a study of their campgrounds

The town of Moriah and village of Port Henry are seeking a grant to review each municipality’s campsite.

The town of Moriah and village of Port Henry are seeking a grant to review each municipality’s campsite.

— The town of Moriah and village of Port Henry are seeking a grant to review each municipality’s campsite.

If awarded, the grant will be used to hire a consultant to study the town-owned Bulwagga Bay campsite and the village-owned Port Henry campground, then make recommendations on their operations.

“The town of Moriah and village of Port Henry have more public property on Lake Champlain than any other community on the lake,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “That’s a tremendous asset.”

Bulwagga Bay has 175 campsites. This past summer it generated $290,000 in revenue. The books are still open on the 2013 campsite season, but Scozzafava expects the town will make about $160,000 in profit. That money will be placed in the town general fund and be used to offset local taxes.

“It was full all summer,” Scozzafava said of the campsite. “Most of the campers are seasonal. They like to park an RV in one place and stay there.”

The Port Henry village campground has 92 sites, according to Deputy Mayor Matt Brassard. The campground averages approximately $50,000 profit annually. The books are not yet closed on the 2013 season.

Like Moriah, Port Henry uses campground money in its general fund to offset local taxes.

Scozzafava believes the local campgrounds could be much more profitable, but are limited because they’re operated by local governments.

“We put money back into the place (Bulwagga Bay), but not even close to what it needs,” he said. “Because of financial constraints on local governments the campsite will never reach its full potential.”

Moriah has discussed leasing Bulwagga Bay to a private company, going as far as seeking proposals. That effort fell short when residents expressed opposition.

“Because it’s public property you can’t just lease it,” Scozzafava said. “Anything we do is subject to permissive referendum. It belongs to the people of Moriah.”

With additional amenities, Scozzafava believes the Bulwagga Bay campsite could thrive.

“That could be, with the right investment, a five-star RV park,” he said. “It’s right on Lake Champlain. There aren’t many of those.”

The Bulwagga Bay campsite presents a Catch-22 problem for Moriah, the supervisor said.

“We rely on it to generate money used to keep taxes down,” Scozzafava said. “Because we want to keep taxes down, we don’t have the money to invest in the campsite. We need that money every year for our budget.”

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