The Blue Earth city campground at the fairgrounds has been closed early this season, for a facelift.
Reconstruction on the campground sites is under way. There will be a total of nine individual camp sites and four tent-only sites. They will have their own water, sewer and electrical connection. There will also be a separate paid dump station to use.
People have been using the Blue Earth city campground for their own personal dump station in the past, for free; this will no longer be possible."The planning stages have been going on for about a year," says city administrator Kathy Bailey. "It is finally starting to take place."
The campgrounds did not meet current health codes and the solution was either to renovate or close it down. Public works director Jamie Holland found a particularly accurate and humorous review about the campgrounds. It was described as a "mother medusa haphazard willie-nilly campground."
The city council has decided to improve it.
"The state licensing board wants to regulate and have specific places, especially for large motor homes," says Bailey.
In order to accommodate to the codes, each camp site will have a gravel pad to distinguish individual camping spots.
"Before it looked like a turn-around area," Holland said. "People would just park next to the electrical outlet and it would be first- come, first-serve.
The distinction of the spots will make for a less confusing campground and will help regulate each individual spot.
"We would find campers in the middle of the fairgrounds," says Bailey. "They would just find an outlet that was for a food vendor during the fair."
The project will be funded by the general fund and the original estimated amount was $26,000. However, according to Holland, the actual cost will be over that figure.
The construction process has been delayed by more than one circumstance. First, it took the state three and a half months to get the plans back to the council. Secondly, the design kept changing based on rules of the state. The weather delayed the start of the process, too. Recently, the construction had to work around local events in town.
The goal is to finish the construction before Sept. 15 and have an inspection after that. The main goal of having campers use the new campgrounds is next spring, 2014.
The city will provide one night for free and $20 per day after that. Previously, it was two nights free and only $5 per day; but according to Holland, some large campers use over $20 in electricity alone.
"The city of Blue Earth provided an amenity," says Bailey. "People would stay for three or four weeks and not have to pay a thing; the city paid for it all."
If the new grounds are a success then that could support a possible rate increase in the future. The city council goes through an annual process of examining all the fees and will incorporate the campground into that discussion.
"The campgrounds are a way to bring people into town," Bailey said. "It is never going to be a huge resort or attraction, but the new grounds will improve the health and safety for everybody."