2013 Good Year For Marinette County Parks
Income generated by Marinette County Parks and campgrounds grew by more than $9,000 between 2012 and 2013, largely due to increased popularity of the Morgan Park since the installation of flush toilets, showers and washing machines, along with a new loop of drive through camp sites designed for easy access by larger camping units and RVs.
While discussing the income reports at their meeting Friday, Jan. 10 the Parks and Outdoor Recreation Committee agreed adding a similar loop at Twin Bridge Park will be a priority.
Parks and Forestry Administrator Pete Vilas said his crew will work on adding the Twin Bridge loop as time allows. He said the Morgan Park improvements turned out well and most of the loop development work was done in-house.
Administrative Assistant Kellie Hartman said people who call her for reservations say they love the showers and the pull-through camp sites.
There also has been discussion on the possibility of an ATV campground at Twin Bridge, in an area separate from other campsites to minimize noise factors. Flush toilets, laundry and shower facilities were added there several years ago. The day use area of Twin Bridge Park was heavily used as usual and the campground was filled to capacity all through the 2013 camping season, Assistant Parks Director Dave Marquardt informed the committee.
Discussion indicated the committee feels there will be no problem filling additional campsites at Twin Bridge when they are developed, despite the proximity of Gov. Thompson State Park, which opened its campground during the summer of 2013. Located on the High Falls Flowage, the park offers excellent an extensive sandy beach plus ample picnic, hiking, boating and fishing opportunities.
Supervisor Larry Nichols said he would like to see a group camp site at Twin Bridge.
Vilas said in future they will work toward making all the camp sites drive through in all parks. In the near future hes looking at some improvements for sites in Veterans Park, which is located off Parkway Road on the Thunder River south of County X and north of County W.
Overall, the Parks Department earned $250,967 in 2013, up from $240,112 in 2012. Of this, $88,806 came from day use fees and annual stickers, up about $3,300 from 2012. We exceeded expectations in all areas, Marquardt declared.
Committee Chair Bill Walker suggested, as he had at prior meetings, that they could provide a valued service to campers and earn more money for the parks department by allowing vendors to sell things like ice cream, soda, ice, etc. in the parks and campgrounds. We spend thousands of dollars every year promoting our parks. Why cant we make some money in them? he asked.
The issue had come up a few months ago when a vendor asked to run a mobile hot dog/ice cream truck through Morgan Park on a regular basis. Ken Mattison had turned thumbs down on the proposal.
Al Mans said he had a call with an ice cream stand near Twin Bridge who felt allowing in-park sales there would hurt his business. However, he noted, Morgan Park is six miles from town, meaning it would require a 12-mile round trip to buy ice. Goodman and McClintock parks are even farther. He felt kids and their parents would probably love it if a Dilly Wagon were to come through occasionally. Currently there are not even soda vending machines in the parks.
Vilas said they need a policy that would cover all parks and campgrounds, with the same rules for each. He added if they allowed sale of foods cooked on site they would need to make sure the vendors have all the right licenses.
Supervisor Nichols recalled a few years ago the state stopped food sales at the ice boat races due to licensing issues.
Mans felt at least they could put in coin operated ice and soda vending machines, and charge vendors for the right to be there.
Mattison felt there needs to be a lot of study. The committee agreed Vilas and Marquardt should collect policies from other counties in the state, particularly rural ones like Marinette County, and put the subject on the agenda for the next meeting, which will be held on Friday, Feb. 7.
Walker wondered if they had heard anything more from Crivitz Ski Cats regarding expanding the facilities they use at Lake Noquebay Park, where they have held performances twice a week all summer for the last several years.
Vilas said the last he heard, the Ski Cat members were talking with nearby landowners to gain their support.
Its up to them to do their part, Walker commented. If they dont do that, nothing changes.
A few months ago the department ended a contract with Bank North for handling cash received for camping and day use. That money is now delivered to the Parks office at the Highway Department building in Peshtigo. Marquardt said he did not feel comfortable with large amounts of cash left in his office, so they purchased a safe from S&0 Lock. Vilas said the Forestry Department will also use the safe so all cash will be under lock and key.
The committee readily approved an agreement with Dun-Good Riders that allows them to add a well and machine washing facility at their clubhouse on Hwy. 8 in Dunbar to be used. The club owns the property, and the $6,500 project is to be financed by a 50/50 grant from the DNRs Trail Improvement Fund (generated by ATV license fees), with the club playing half and the grant paying half. The club will be responsible for contracting and coordinating all work, and will assume full responsibility for future care and maintenance of the well.
Marinette Countys sole responsibility is to serve as fiscal agent, receiving the money from the DNR and passing it on to the club when the work is complete. Marquardt said the agreement was reviewed and approved by Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison.
Mans termed acceptance, no brainer, and commented the ATV visitors are a major boost to the countys tourism economy.
When looking over paid invoices committee members had questions about charges from DTAK, LLC, of New London - $4,200 for wood chips and $2,100 for playground material.
Marquardt explained he had purchased a special wood fiber product which has to be piled about a foot thick under playground equipment, enough for playgrounds at four parks. The chips must be mold resistant and arsenic free, so the locally produced chips will not do. He hopes the special playground material will last three to four years.
Marquardt reported the first parks worker laid off for the winter will come back to work in February, and the rest come back in March. Meanwhile, the people left finished finished winterizing the buildings, and then closed most shop and work areas for the winter. They had a final collection of camping and day use fees for the year. They completed firewood cutting for the 2014 season, burned a big brush pile, and installed the final battery bank system for the Goodman Park generator. The Parks Foreman, Camp Bird Caretaker and Assistant Parks Administrator all took vacation time.
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