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Great deal at Oak Harbor’s RV park may end

Fred and Irene Wright of Coquitlan, Canada, frequent Oak Harbor’s Staysail RV Park for its quietness, price and location. - Jenny Manning / Whidbey News-Times
Fred and Irene Wright of Coquitlan, Canada, frequent Oak Harbor’s Staysail RV Park for its quietness, price and location.
— image credit: Jenny Manning / Whidbey News-Times

Fred and Irene Wright of Coquitlan, Canada, come to Oak Harbor’s Staysail RV Park for its quiet atmosphere, waterside location and, most importantly, its modest price.

But the nightly rate may soon increase. A recent survey by city officials shows the overnight fee has remained unchanged during the last five years.

Unlike other enterprise ventures, such as the marina, the city has not kept a regular review of its RV and park facility fees, according to City Administrator Paul Schmidt.

Staysail could use a little updating, he said. A lack of funds put the washroom’s replacement and other basic upgrades on hold last year and a rate increase may provide enough money to complete the needed upgrades.

There’d been a plan to survey Oak Harbor’s park and facility fees, but a recent complaint stepped up the process, he said.

“It’s time to update, and the complaint did move it along,” Schmidt said of the survey.

Larry Rebich, the owner of five RV parks, took his grievance to the August Oak Harbor City Council meeting. At issue was the park’s 30-amp hookups. According to Rebich, 30 amps is just not enough power for today’s RVs. Rebich also suggested the city could expand the park and move it across the street.

“As investors, we might be interested in getting involved with that,” he said.

The mayor’s executive assistant, Renee Recker, said Rebich’s offer was a surprise to both herself and the council.

“Moving the RV park was part of the Windjammer project, but it hasn’t been discussed for some time,” she said of the once-ballyhooed plan that is now gathering dust.

The camp host and other park guests disagree with Rebich over the need to install bigger hookups and expand the park.

“They’ll scare a lot of people away if they go strictly to the bigger amps,” said Fred Wright, adding that the $20-per-night price at Staysail and the small, community-like atmosphere are big draws. If the city installs larger amp hookups the nightly price is likely to go up, he said.

Wright isn’t the only camper who’d like the park to remain unchanged.

Wilf Graham of Surrey, Canada, spends the better part of his summer at the Staysail RV Park.

“I stay 15 days, go home to cut the grass and come back,” he said, adding that he favors the Oak Harbor RV park over other nearby facilities for its inexpensive rate and the fact that reservations aren’t required. Graham estimates that he spends about $700 each summer to stay at the park in addition to $400 in local shopping during each of his 15-day stays.

Graham said he’s never seen Rebich at the park before and described the man as a troublemaker who was telling other park visitors misleading information about electrical requirements.

The city-sponsored survey found the Staysail RV Park overnight fee has remained the same over the last five years: $20 for a full hookup spot, or $12 for a tent space. The fee includes electricity, dumping costs and park maintenance.

In comparison, a night at the North Whidbey RV Park on Highway 20 across from the Deception Pass State Park entrance runs $33. And the park accepts reservations, while Staysail sites go on a first-come-first-served basis.

A night at any of the three Whidbey Island State Parks including Deception Pass, Fort Ebey and Fort Casey range from $25 to $33 for RV slips with a full hookup or $19 to $24 for tent camping, according to the city’s survey. Reservations are accepted, but the peace of mind will cost an additional $6.50 to $8.50.

Both North Whidbey RV Park and the state parks offer various discounts for seniors. The city offers no such discounts; however, the prices are unbeatable. In most cases, the city’s rates are less than or nearly the same as North Whidbey and the state parks’ discounted fees.

Facilities fees have also remained stagnant in town.

The nearby Windjammer Park kitchen fee is the same as it was a decade ago. A modest fee of $25 covers the reservation, garbage pickup and facility maintenance. State parks offer similar facilities for $1.13 per person plus $8.50 for the reservation.

An uptick in the city’s park fees, such as increased overnight rates or reservation fees will improve its facilities, but may run off some longstanding visitors.

“I’d say, ‘To hell with you.’ I’m not going to pay the $8 for a reservation,” said Graham.

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