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North Adams Campground Seeks Fee Hike
Tammy Daniels,
09:37PM / Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The old concession stand and bathrooms are being replaced by a newer structure closer to the beach. The future of the old building would be up to the city, said the commission.


NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Campground fees are likely rise next year as the city looks to improve and market Windsor Lake.

The Windsor Lake Recreation Commission on Tuesday voted 4-1 to recommend to the mayor about a 10 percent increase for all camping rates.

"What it comes down to is the rates haven't changed in years," said Chairman George Forgea. "These are low compared to other campgrounds around here. ... we're a few bucks below everybody."

Forgea had suggested raising the daily rates for the different sites at $2 and raising the seasonal rate by $55, to $1,600. There are about 40 seasonal campers, which would mean the campground would bring in $2,400 more a season.

"I don't want to drive anybody away," said Forgea. "I just know we can't continue the way we are."

The reinvigorated board has been tasked by Mayor Richard Alcombright to review options for upgrading and marketing the 100-site Historic Valley Park and the public areas of Windsor Lake, better known as Fish Pond. The City Council in October authorized the borrowing of $150,000 at the urging of the mayor and the commission to build a new concession stand at the lake and revamp the outdated bathrooms in the campground. Both structures are more than 40 years old.

Member Nancy Bullett asked why the arbitrary $2 hike per day but $55 for the season. She suggested that the amount be fair across the board, either 15 percent or 10 percent.

Forgea said it was likely the rates would climb higher in the future, but added he was "concerned about that much of an increase with no visible improvements." Far more work needs to be done in the campground, including an expensive electrical upgrade.

Commission member William St. Pierre said he didn't think $2 more would drive anyone away but raising them higher might. Member Robert Upton, however, wondered if too low an increase to start would make the inevitable larger hike to help recoup the cost of the improvements seem even bigger.

"I think for consistency you should do it across the board," said Bullett.

A 10 percent increase, rounded up, would set the full-season rate at $1,700; wilderness sites at $14, up from $12; tent sites at $23, up from $21; water and electric sites at $29, up from $26; and lakeside sites at $33, up from $30.

A monthly rate of $465 for the water and electric sites would jump to $515, still a considerable savings considering it would be $780 if paid by the night.

The commission left standing a pay-six-get-seven-nights deal around since the 1970s and visitor rates of $3 per person a day and $6 for overnights. They suggested adding a senior citizen rate of free daily visits and $3 overnights.

The commission voted to send the recommendations to the mayor; St. Pierre voted no believing the seasonal rate was too high and would discourage campers from the already underbooked park. "We'll lose that revenue."

Member Paul Corriveau disagreed. "We seem to be worried about losing seasonals but this campground has gotten the reputation for not being the place to go. I'm sure the word is out that the seasonals are taking up space.

"Once the word gets out that we're renovating the campground ... I like to think that we're going to see more people come forward."

The panel also said it would begin cracking done on littering, trash left behind and unregistered camping vehicles. A new, updated brochure should be ready be spring, a website is being developed and the institution of a credit card registration system will aid in getting deposits. The campground is also now listed with the Massachusetts Camping Association.

The commission will also be sending recommendations for the post of campground manager after reviewing some 20 applications for the seasonal post. Most of the applicants live in the region but some are applying from as far away as Pennsylvania.

Forgea said a motorhome group out of Boston has expressed interest in using the campground as the base for a three-day rally. A representative is coming out Thursday to look it over and Forgea planned to greet her with brochures of the region's attractions.

Commission members were pleased with the news. "This could really get the word out," said Corriveau.

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