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Will usage justify the cost?

By Staff | Mar 18, 2012

We are a bit surprised that the Winnebago City Council is so surprised at the cost of a new bathhouse for a proposed campground.

It seems that any project, from a picnic shelter to any public works construction, quickly approaches that $100,000 cost in a hurry these days.

While it might seem that a small structure like the one proposed should be half that cost, the reality is that a plain picnic shelter in Putnam Park on the project list in Blue Earth is more than $60,000. One on that same list for Steinberg Park, which would include a restroom, goes up in cost to around that $100 grand mark.

Buildings just are not cheap any more.

While we applaud the Winnebago council for their plan to try and create a good use for an old mobile home park that had become an eyesore, this added cost could be cause for more study.

Turning the mobile home area into a campground was a good idea. After all, the infrastructure such as electrical and water hookups is already in place. It was a project that seemed to be an easy one to accomplish. Until now.

The one question has been, will a campground inside the city limits see that much use?

People who head out camping for the weekend usually want a camp site in the woods, or along a lake. They may not want to be in a town setting.

There will be times, of course, that a camping area in Winnebago could be busy. That would be when events such as Moto Fest and Brew Fest are going on.

But, will a campground inside the city of Winnebago stay busy enough to justify a large expense of a bathhouse facility? That is, of course, the $100,000 question.

It is great that the City Council has funding available from a previous sale of the liquor store. This means no new tax dollars would be needed to support the campground project.

But, what the members of the council have to study, debate and then determine, is, would this money be better used someplace else? Perhaps on a project that would benefit more citizens of Winnebago. Or would be a more financially sound investment.

While no one could expect a park or campground to be a big money maker for a city, one would hope that it would at least see enough usage to justify the expense.

We hope the council takes its time to look at all the pluses and minuses and then make the best decision they can.