Moundsville RV Park Plan Progressing

Council agrees to create 25 spaces at facility

Photo by Alan Olson Moundsville City Councilman David Haynes, left, and Vice Mayor David Wood listen to discussion during a meeting earlier this week.

MOUNDSVILLE — After a controversial decision to move forward with a park for recreational vehicles near the city’s Riverfront Park, the Moundsville Policy Committee this week took steps to determine the details of how the park would be realized.

Among the issues was the matter of who would ultimately control the park. Local RV park owners had advised council that day-to-day operation of the park is a constant job, with calls to police in the middle of the night being a frequent occurrence. Vice Mayor David Wood pointed out the relative lack of resources and authority held by the Recreation Board to handle matters, and suggested the overall authority be placed with City Manager Deanna Hess.

“I do not think they want to take on this major, major task,” Wood said. “They don’t have the resources to do it. Deanna has the resources. She has a person she could assign to look at different aspects.”

Hess would also be authorized to hire a manager for the park to deal with everyday operations.

Officials decided the park would have 25 spaces. While the possibility to include reserved spots for tent camping was discussed, Councilman Allen Hendershot said the city would first need to provide restroom and shower facilities, which should not be first priority.

Financially, Hendershot also discussed revenue from existing sources — $30,000 from a timbering fund, and $70,000 from oil and natural gas — as being earmarked for the campsite. Councilwoman Ginger DeWitt estimated the cost of building 25 sites at $87,500, assuming about $3,500 per site to install.

The timbering fund stems from a years-old project in which state officials sought to clear-cut an area of land within the city for use as a landfill, which has since been completed. The city chose to clear the land on their own, with the revenue from the lumber being set aside for parks and recreation.

If the initial $100,000 is exceeded, DeWitt, and several other members of the committee, voiced their opinion that the excess amount should need to be paid back.

“We should limit how much we support parks and recreation through the general fund,” Hendershot said. “Make them more responsible. … If they become self-sufficient, it gives us more money to do other things we want to do: salaries, buildings, equipment.”

“They go through a lot of money,” Councilman David Haynes said.

The committee came to a tentative agreement to equally split the revenue from the park between the city and the recreation department, with the understanding that any support the city gave, beyond the initial amount, would be paid back.

As for the RV park itself, DeWitt asked whether tobacco and alcohol would be permitted because it is so close to the nearby city park.

“You’re probably not going to get a whole lot of people living down there if they can’t do what they want in their own camper,” DeWitt said.

Hendershot, backed by City Attorney Tom White, said while they could likely limit such things outdoors, the city could not easily enforce a rule like that inside the campers.

Police Chief Tom Mitchell added that, in his experience, it was common for RV park clientele to be less rowdy than some expect.

“I think it’s way different to live in a trailer like these guys do,” Mitchell said.

“These guys are out there, hard working, they get home … and I was surprised. They drink a few beers and don’t bother anyone. It’s just like renting an apartment or a house,” Mitchell continued. “You tell them ‘you can’t have a beer, smoke a cigarette,’ I don’t think it’s manageable.”

The decision to commit to the RV park came from a 4-3 vote by council, with Mayor Gene Saunders and council members Phil Remke, David Haynes and Judy Hunt voting in favor. Within a day of passage, more than 500 residents had signed a petition speaking out against the park.

Michelle Haynes, a local resident who put the petition on, had some choice words regarding the decision.

“Of course the city of Moundsville is going to construct the RV park so many do not want,” Haynes wrote in an email. “We the people of Moundsville are done.”

Other locals, such as Carl Boso and Frank Boso, had also made several appearances at council meetings to voice their opposition to the park, saying the residents could pose a threat to children at the nearby playground, and that the RV park itself would be unsightly.