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Oak Harbor plans RV park upgrade
George and Arlene Neufeld arrived at the Staysale RV Park Thursday with three other “rigs” from the Vancouver area of British Columbia.
The Neufelds have stayed in Oak Harbor’s RV park each Holland Happening weekend for more than 10 years. It’s a nice, quiet spot, they said Friday morning over toast and coffee, but they wouldn’t mind paying more for a little modern technology.
“I would have liked Wi-Fi this morning,” Arlene Neufeld said.
“The old people, you know, are right into it.”
When they come next year, they’ll get their wish.
Last week, the City Council approved a proposal that will move the waterside RV Park — located on the west side of Windjammer Park on Beeksma Drive — into the 21st century with an automated pay station, an online reservation system and even Wi-Fi for campers.
The move will save the city in labor and other costs, but it’s likely to come with a fee increase for campers.
Public Works Director Cathy Rosen said the current system “is very labor intensive.”
For safety and security, two city employees have to pick up payments from the locked drop box each day and bring them to City Hall, where staff members open each envelope to verify that campers have paid the right amount.
To avoid the estimated 235 hours of annual labor, the city is contracting with a Tennessee-based company that will provide an online reservation system and an automated pay station at the park so that campers can pay with credit or debit cards.
Rosen estimates that the setup for the kiosk, including the touch-screen computer and a security camera, will cost about $15,500, with an ongoing cost of $178 per month for the online reservation and park management system.
For an extra $200 a month, the city can also offer Wi-Fi at the park.
The company will charge customers $3.50 for each online reservation.
The automation will save the city about $4,600 a year in the cost of labor and payment envelopes, Rosen said.
The changes will go online in the fall, after the busy summer season.
Councilman Jim Campbell said he’s traveled all over the nation in an RV and that Oak Harbor is way behind the times.
“I can’t remember the last time I stayed at an RV site that doesn’t have Wi-Fi,” he said, adding that offering TV is also vital to luring customers.
Council members agreed that the fee for staying at the RV park, which haven’t changed in eight years, should be increased as a result of the improvements. Rosen said she’ll bring proposed fee increases to council later in the year.
Currently, the city charges $20 a night for the sites with full hook-ups and $12 a day for tent sites. The park has 56 RV sites and 26 tent sites.
Arlene Neufeld said she wouldn’t mind paying $30 a night to stay at the Oak Harbor site.
“We expected the price to increase this year.”