County to develop fair park camping rules
April 18, 2019
Wahkiakum County officials outlined plans to deal with campers at Fairgrounds Park when they met Tuesday.
The park, which lies adjacent to the county fairgrounds in Skamokawa, has hosted a group of long term campers who have been paying rent to the county fair. Concerns have arisen over use of park and fair facilities, which weren't designed to accommodate long-term camping. The issue was discussed last Tuesday at the county commission meeting, the county fair board addressed it last Wednesday when that group met.
The campers will be out of the park by May 1, said Commissioner Gene Strong, the commission's liaison with the fair board, and county officials need to develop park use rules and upgrade facilities before allowing long term camping again, he said.
Strong said some campers are using long extension cords to obtain electricity, which is wasteful. There is no person on duty 24 hours a day to handle bookkeeping or maintenance duties.
"There's a whole lot of questions that I have," he said. "I just see a lot of things that need to be addressed."
"And with the electricity, we need service boxes, not extension chrds," said Commissioner Dan Cothren.
Strong said he had compared present and past utility bills.
"I believe we are charging enough for electricity, but not for water and maintenance," he said.
Finally, Strong said the county needs to develop rules and regulations for camping at the park.
"I don't like the liability its creating for the fair and for the county," he said. "I don't like the liability."
Cothren said that he was concerned that by charging fees for camping, the county and fair would be competing with private business.
Former county economic development director Richard Erickson agreed with Cothren's concern and suggested the county either sublet the park to a private business or hire someone to be a park manager.
Fair board member Kay Walters commented that the board has requested an increase in the fair manager's work hours so that she could handle park management.
"We can look at the options," Strong said.
In the meantime, campers will leave the park by the end of April so that fair staff can prepare the grounds for the June car show, horse competitions, July bull riding show and August fair.