KLPW – Campground Facilities and Improvements

Archive for KLPW – Campground Facilities and Improvements

FIRST OF ITS KIND SPLASH PARK IS COMING TO KERR LAKE – Virginia Governor Announces Park Improvement at Occoneechee Ground-Breaking

The 64-year old John H. Kerr Reservoir has seen a lot of changes and improvements during its lifetime.  A lot of those changes have been positive and directly made for the public’s use and enjoyment; among them campgrounds, boat ramps, picnic areas, hiking trails, playgrounds, restrooms and more.

At a ground-breaking ceremony earlier this week at Occoneechee State Park in Clarksville, Virginia a new, attraction-type of venue was unveiled, that is a “splash park” to be built within the park.  A splash park is described as a recreation area for water play that has little or no standing water. This is said to eliminate the need for lifeguards or other supervision, as there is minor risk of drowning.  Designers and project managers for the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Richmond design firm are calling Occoneechee’s new wet spot a “splashground.”

About 35 people attended the “by invitation only” event earlier this week at Occoneechee with most of those being public officials from DCR , the US Army Corps of Engineers (which has approved the project), Occoneechee and area park staff and a handful of local officials.

The main attraction was the combining of the ground-breaking and an official visit to Occoneechee by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who upon election, promised to visit every state park in the Commonwealth.  Occoneechee State Park was park to visit and the Governor made his promise become truth.  Twice the same day the governor visited the other Kerr Lake Virginia State Park, Staunton River.  While at Occoneechee, the affable McAuliffe commented to Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Frank Timberlake that Occoneechee is a “gem” of a park with the added value of being on Kerr Lake.  He was surprised to learn that Timberlake has been visiting and/or camping at Occoneechee for over 50 years. McAuliffe asked Timberlake what has drawn him to the park and the Governor received a long, positive list.

McAuliffe was accompanied by some staff and security people, but he was also accompanied by some family members, including his niece shown below as they discussed the differences in the Kerr Lake parks from other Virginia State Parks.  She told Kerr Lake Park Watch that she particularly liked the fact that a major percentage of the water going out into the splashground will be recaptured and recycled through the system.  Kerr Lake Park Watch attempted to get more information on the reclamation system and its advantages from DCR but has received nothing by posting time.

Earlier this year commenting on the economic impact that Virginia State Parks make to the Commonwealth’s coffers, Governor McAuliffe said that the park system brought in visitor fees of $224 million in 2016.  Officials at the ceremony commented that Occoneechee State Park had revenues over $4 million last year.  The new “Splashground” will undoubtedly bring in more revenues as it will be a fee-based activity.  DCR officials anticipate that the Occoneechee splash park charge will be between $5 and $8 per person.   Park officials said that there’s a comparable sprayground at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, and the price there ranges from $5-$8, depending on the age and the day, with children under three getting free admission.  Projections on costs for the project that will take about a year to complete are between $1.5 million and $1.8 million.  The new splashground is expected to open Spring 2018.

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IT’S PUBLIC INPUT TIME! SURVEY ON IMPROVEMENTS AT NC KERR LAKE PARKS IS OUT – YOUR TURN TO FILL IT OUT

The opportunity for the public to have input into the improvement process for Kerr Lake State Recreation Areas funded by $3.75 million from the Connect NC Bond is here.  The North Carolina Division of State Parks & Recreation has launched a 30-day survey on its website that will survey people seeking their priorities for improvements and facilities additions at the seven SRA’s on the North Carolina side of Kerr Lake.  Those parks include, Kimball Point, County Line, Bullocksville, Satterwhite Point, Nutbush, Hibernia and Henderson Point.

The direct link to the Kerr Lake State Recreation Area survey is:  NC State Parks Survey on Kerr Lake Recreation Area Improvements.

Kerr Lake Park Watch leaders took state park top administrators on a daylong tour of all seven state recreation areas late last season.  The idea was to give them a firsthand view of the parks, showing them both problems and opportunities, assets and liabilities in each park.  While meeting various park staff along the way, touring all the parks from the state division were Adrian O’Neal, Chief of Operations for the NC Division of State Parks & Recreation, Jerry Howerton, Chief of Maintenance, Bryce Fleming, Kerr Lake SRA Superintendent and Chris Curl, Kerr Lake Chief of Maintenance.   Kerr Lake Lead for Public Affairs, Frank Timberlake, led the around-the-lake trip.  At the conclusion, Kerr Lake Park Watch leaders Linda Timberlake and Lisa and Joel Bailey topped off the day with dinner and dessert.

KLPW’s Frank Timberlake photos NC State Park officials discussing the merits of a Premium RV loop at Henderson Point.

One of the opportunities for development was at Henderson Point where some of the most beautiful property on the lake is developed for tents only, but includes a $600,000+/- bath and shower facility.  Kerr Lake Park Watch has recommended that a portion of that park that is directly out in the sun most of the day, be developed into the first PREMIUM RV sites on Kerr Lake, or maybe in the State of North Carolina.  The flat, oversized sites, in KLPW’s concept, would offer water and 50 AMP electric service, wifi and a designated  beach area.  Now the area is unfrequented by many tent campers in the summer due to no available electricity or shade.  Sewer at Kerr Lake campgrounds below the 320 foot line above sea level is not possible since all parks around Kerr Lake are actually on federal land.

Kerr Lake Park Watch’s improvement list includes at the top:

  1. Improved bathhouses, especially at Nutbush and Kimball Point and possibly Satterwhite Point
  2. Increased water and electric sites, possibly on both sides of the lake.  For example, with a new bathhouse in Area 1 of Hibernia, that area is now prime for 25 to 30 water and electric sites.
  3. Develop a Premium RV loop, such as the Henderson Point site

“We asked the State of North Carolina in a loud and determined manner for a method to offer public input from us, the users of Kerr Lake, as to how to spend the money from the Connect NC bond,” commented Timberlake, “Now it’s the job of all of us who love those parks on the lake to voice our opinions and use the forum that the Division of State Parks has provided.  It’s like the old adage, if you don’t vote, don’t complain.  This is our window of opportunity!  Seize it.”

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MAKE YOUR WANT LIST FOR THE NORTH CAROLINA PARKS ON KERR LAKE KNOWN…MAKE WAVES!

IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO MAKE WAVES! If you visit any of the seven (7) Kerr Lake State Recreation Areas on the North Carolina side of Kerr Lake then it’s time for your opinion.

The Division of NC State Parks and Recreation is putting together a survey on how best to spend the $3.75 million from the earlier-passed Connect NC Bond referendum.  When that survey is ready, we will share the link for your convenience.

Those of us in Kerr Lake Park Watch want to see some improvements/replacements of bath facilities like at Nutbush and Kimball Point.

We also would like to see some of the pressure for electric sites removed by adding electric and water sites to Henderson Point and Hibernia.

We have a detailed story coming about the late last summer visit of NC State Park top officials and some ideas that are emerging. But you, the park user, the visitor, should now express your ideas.

It’s a good time to put forth your ideas as NC State Parks will spend $3.75 million on something at Kerr Lake.  You can wait for the link to the survey or you can write now on FB or send your opinions to info@kerrlakeparkwatch.org.

You know the needs…now is the time to share them.  Make your wave!

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SNOWMAN VISITS KERR LAKE – PARKS CLOSED OR OPEN ARE A BIT FROSTY – HOW ABOUT THE FUTURE?

The hearty and warm thanks of Kerr Lake Park Watch go to brave soul and park lover Cindy R Gustafson who braved this weekend’s winter weather to share with you some snow-covered scenes on Kerr Lake.  The picture below at the entrance to Hibernia State Recreation Area is a far cry from days of hot dogs cooked on a fire, roasted marshmallows and playing in the water’s edge.

Winter weather with low temps hit virtually all of Kerr Lake country this weekend and as you can see from Ms. Gustafon’s next shot, no one was launching boats at the Hibernia Wildlife ramp.  It was just a little to snowy!

Though things are frosty at the parks around the lake, we are now waiting to see if changes in the Division of State Parks in North Carolina are going to be warm or frosty.

Particularly at the end of last season, great inroads were made when NC parks officials from Raleigh and Kerr Lake Park Watch leaders toured every one of the seven state recreation areas and a leased marina to learn about the problems, the challenges and the opportunities of the recreation areas which differ greatly from regular state parks.

At the top of the list, is how to spend the $3 million plus from the recent Connect NC bond on Kerr Lake.  The change of a governor, means the change at the secretary level of a governing department and at the level of Division, meaning a new parks director.

Kerr Lake Park Watch will be keeping an eye on those positions and trying to ascertain where Kerr Lake stands with the new leadership.

In the meantime, as an interested supporter of Kerr Lake, you may want to send us your ideas on improvements that we can put into this year’s priority list.

With positive steps, correct information, good input, maybe we can all avoid any more snow jobs, and yes, that is a clichéd pun.

Until warmer days…

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas

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STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA RESTORES 50% CUT TO SENIOR DISCOUNTS FOR CAMPING AT KERR LAKE & UPS THE DISCOUNT FOR ALL STATE PARKS

Kerr Lake Park Watch has been notified by the NC Division of State Parks that the 50% cut for discounts to senior citizens who camp at Kerr Lake has been rescinded and the full discount of $6 per night for seniors 62 years of age and older has been restored. In addition, that discount now applies throughout the entire park system for the State of North Carolina.

For more than a week though, the Reserve America system that takes NC State Parks reservations would not give campers the $6 senior discount, only the $3. But as of sometime Thursday, the computer glitches in Reserve America’s system were fixed and the statewide $6 per night senior discount restored.  The pictures below show that the system said $6 but only allowed $3 discount.

2016 KL Reservation that says $6, but only gave $3 #2 (2)     2016 KL Reservation that says $6, but only gave $3 (2)

 

For a number of years, senior campers at any of the seven Kerr Lake NC State Recreation areas have enjoyed a $6 per night discount applied when they made their reservations. Around the first of May of this year, the Division of State Parks and Recreation which manages all state parks including the recreation areas at Kerr Lake put a “dynamic rate plan” into effect and at the same time, cut the senior citizen discount from $6 to $3 per night or by 50%. One of the Kerr Lake Park Watch members was in the process of booking a site and noticed the change; almost immediately, several other campers found out about the change.

A news release and several radio broadcasts brought an initial response from NC State Parks that there had been no cut in the senior discount for camping. Adrian O’Neal, Chief of Operations told Kerr Lake Park Watch that sometimes when implementing something new like dynamic pricing that related items are inadvertently affected. O’Neal stated, “After some additional research, it seems there has been some inconsistency in the administration of the Senior Discount (for camping) not only at Kerr Lake, but throughout the system.  To remedy this, we will be restoring a statewide $6 Senior Discount (for camping).  I assure you this was not an attempt to sneak in a price increase. With that said, we are implementing a model that does charge premium rates for premium times such as holidays and weekends in season, but additionally, provides for reduced rates during off peak times such as weekdays and winter months. This model is used widely throughout the travel industry.  You will also see some minor increases in entrance fees later this year.   Again, we hope dynamic pricing will allow us to make fee changes incrementally so visitors will not see drastic changes from year to year and can plan appropriately for upcoming visits.

“The members and the leadership of Kerr Lake Park Watch are pleased with the swift action by the Division of State Parks to restore the senior citizen discount to 100% of what it was at Kerr Lake. It’s even better that the discount has been further extended, uniformly, to all state parks in North Carolina,” said Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Lead for Public Affairs, Frank Timberlake adding, “As far as Reserve America, we’re used to their glitches and foul-ups.”

Timberlake added, “Regarding the dynamic pricing, we now have the beginnings of a rate schedule from O’Neal and that helps. We will study it and at the same time listen to our members and the public to gather any and all reactions.”

“People sometimes forget that yes, sometimes we are a whistle blowing operation, but that we also are a strong support group of our rangers, our maintenance professionals, other park personnel and the parks themselves. We appreciate the way that Mr. O’Neal stepped up to our issues and the way he and the other leaders dealt with them quickly and to our members’ satisfaction. I truly appreciate Mr. O’Neal’s interest in Kerr Lake Park Watch and his spending time to find out more about what we see as opportunities and issues, said Timberlake.”

Regarding rate increases, most Kerr Lake campers who talk to members and leaders of Kerr Lake Park Watch are not opposed to incremental rates increases as long as they see money being put back into the parks for things like improved campsites with more camping pad gravel, improved bath facilities and possibly lighted boat ramps operated by the park system.

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NC STATE PARKS QUIETLY RAISES PARK FEES & CUTS SENIOR DISCOUNTS BY 50%!

NC State Parks has quietly and confusingly raised rates and at the same time, cut senior citizen discounts by 50%.   This happened this week to Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Lead of Public Affairs, Frank Timberlake, who regularly books working trips to campgrounds around Kerr Lake, “The people at Reserve America said that they did not yet have new rates for North Carolina State Parks, which includes the seven state recreation areas at Kerr, but that they (Reserve America) were advised to begin new charges around the first of May.  I asked for a rate schedule and was refused several times.  They referred me to another person and eventually to a supervisor who could not explain very much.”

“The first thing I noticed is that they cut the senior citizen discount in half and that they upped my regular rate” continued Timberlake. “They couldn’t produce anything but they said I still had to pay a $3 per night fee for them booking the site, online or on the phone so Reserve America is still taking in the big bucks.  I had to sit on hold for 14 minutes for them to look up an old transaction and the new one I made today because Reserve America’s computers are slow according to two CSR’s and a supervisor. NC State Parks just operates in this vacuum and asks for zero input. Hell, the parks belong to us not them but one wouldn’t know it by their actions! And why should they go picking on older folks for more money?”

Conducting further research, Kerr Lake Park Watch found a short obscure notice on the NC State Park website that says the state is phasing in dynamic pricing which means a new supply and demand rate non-structure and that took effect on May 6th. The last time state parks raised rates was at the bottom of the recession in 2010, another very popular move with the public.

costs going up

North Carolina State Parks users which includes those who visit the seven State Recreation Areas at Kerr Lake pay some of the highest reservation fees in America.  Those fees, the $3 per night, means that if a camper stays at an NC State Park for two nights Reserve America charges that camper $6, but if the same camper reserves the same site for 14 nights, Reserve America charges and keeps $42, for the exact same transaction work.  It’s a one time transaction so why is it based on the number of nights?

Against the advice of other states like Virginia, NC State Parks began with the $3 charge because Reserve America supplied all the reservation software and systems.  Kerr Lake Park Watch wants to know why people have to hold long periods to make reservations and why such a steep transaction fee continues on.

Reaction to the rate hikes and senior citizen discount cut from Kerr Lake Park Watch members and campers has been direct.  KLPW Steering Committee Chair Larry Matthews said, “When our well managed park system pays $700,000 for a new bath house (Hibernia), they have to come up wih the bucks somewhere. And while we’re at it, how long does it take to hire “highly skilled and educated” park rangers. To my knowledge, we still don’t have a ranger at Hibernia. Last, check some of the RV forums. Other states use Reserve America and are no where near as pricey as our $3/night fee. Come on Raleigh!”

A camper who has grown up camping for years at Kerr Lake, Brook Cannady said, “It seems like what has been a good avenue for good family fun with reasonable rates is coming to an end . What was an economical family avenue seems to be changing but without more amenities to support the rate increases. Campers have many family camping options not priced much higher than these state campground with amenities such as pools , wifi, planned kid activities , horse shoe pits, entertainment, and with much cleaner shower facilities with actual ways to keep clothes dry in between changing area and showering space and the list can continue.  Maybe this increase will result in a decrease in park camping.”

“This is not the transparency and good state government customer service that Governor McCrory promised us.  State Parks just goes and makes changes without asking anyone anything.  It makes us think the only way to change this is at the polls,” said Timberlake.  “We will continue to raise questions and if necessary throw darts!  This is just wrong.”

 

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VOLUNTEER DAY FOR HIBERNIA MAY 21HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO THE WEATHER FORECAST

The headquarters for Kerr Lake State Recreation Areas at Satterwhite Point has announced a Volunteer Day at Hibernia on Saturday, May 21st.  “We know it’s a little late and short notice, but there are a lot of mitigating circumstances with staff moves and some maintenance projects,” said Assistant Superintendent Lee Amos, “But we are hoping that members of Kerr Lake Park Watch and the general public will turn out for a while to help and that the weather will cooperate.”

Projects on tap for this year’s Volunteer Day include putting up some signs on some trails, recently refurbished by the maintenance and park personnel.  Several display cases that will house, for educational and informational purposes, both historical and environmental items and info have been built along some of Hibernia’s trails.

Park staff also hopes to work on the Hargrove family cemetery in which is buried the original owner and builder of Hibernia.  The cemetery needs some attention along with metal fence painting.  Real go-getters can bring limb trimming equipment and help push back limbs from campsites.  Last year’s successful Volunteer Day prompted a video about how a few can do much:  KLPW 2015 VOL DAY at HIBERNIA

Volunteers are badly needed, particularly with a short invite window.  Volunteers are asked to be at the picnic shelter between Area 2 and Area 3 on the main park road at 9:00 AM, Saturday, May 21.  For more information, contact the park office at (252) 438-7791.

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KERR LAKE PARK WATCH SENDS WRITTEN REQUEST TO NC PARKS FOR DETAILS ON HOW BOND MONEY WILL BE SPENT AT THE SEVEN KERR LAKE PARKS

Kerr Lake Park Watch made it official yesterday.  Written requests were sent to Michael Murphy, the Director of the Division of State Parks requesting written information on the bond budget and requesting that the Division of State Parks open up to the public the process of selecting projects with new bond monies.

The Lead for Public Affairs, Frank Timberlake wrote to Murphy, “Today, on behalf of the members of Kerr Lake Park Watch, I am requesting a copy of the proposed plan and budget for how many dollars are to be spent and what projects at Kerr Lake would be proposed with the Division’s share of funding, purportedly $100,000,000, of the Connect NC Bond funds.

Secondly, we are requesting that the Division of State Parks set up some kind of input and review by people who actually hike, picnic, swim and camp at those seven parks.  We feel that this can be accomplished by some form of committee, survey, possibly input meetings or some effective combination of all of those.”

Timberlake commented, “We were told that some things would be coming down the line for us to view, but I haven’t heard anything from anyone, so now we’ve put the request in writing, as we intend to be an active part of this process.”

Kerr Lake Park Watch wants to review a line-item plan and budget for the improvements to the seven State Recreation Areas on Kerr Lake with a total of the $100,000,000 to be spent from the Connect NC Bond passage several months ago.

connect nc bond

Excusing the present administration, there have been some questionable improvements, even blunders, at the seven parks in previous years and with money tight and this one-time windfall for improvements, Kerr Lake Park Watch wants to give input and to have a voice in the process of selecting projects to be completed with bond money.  Kerr Lake Park Watch has already offered to fund a survey on behalf of NC State Parks and the seven State Recreation Areas, Kimball Point, County Line, Bullocksville, JC Cooper (Satterwhite Point), Nutbush, Hibernia and Henderson Point.  Nearly 1.5 million visitors use those parks annually.  “We’ve already told them at NC State Parks and we announced it about a month ago that we will be glad to survey our members and people in the region who use the parks to find out what kind of improvements they want to see,” added Timberlake.

“This could be an awesome rebuilding year for state parks with the bond passage,” said Timberlake,  “And with the parks centennial this year, we surely want to celebrate 100 years of North Carolina’s State Parks this year by making every dollar count well towards the future of another 100 years.  So we think a good part of it should be the peoples’ decision as the parks serve them and they voted for the bond issue.”

Kerr Lake Park Watch says it hopes that Director Murphy will respond quickly with the information and with a channel for public input.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas

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KERR LAKE PARK WATCH LEADS EFFORTS TO GET PUBLIC INPUT INTO IMPROVEMENT PROCESS

Kerr Lake Park Watch wants Kerr Lake to get its share of the Connect NC Bond. The portion of Town Talk on WIZS that discusses spending bond funds on the 7 NC State Recreation Areas runs from minutes 4.5 until 18.5 minutes of the show. You can cue up the Kerr Lake Park Watch part of the show by selecting the minute marks on the orange slide on the show you can find at: https://soundcloud.com/user-96612206/town-talk-031716

PLEASE LISTEN and then write to state parks telling Director Michael Murphy you want a voice in Kerr Lake park improvements and a view of the budget! Write to this email: michael.murphy@ncparks.gov and copy us at info@kerrlakeparkwatch.org.

wizs-listen-live

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CONNECT NC BOND PASSES – WHAT IMPROVEMENTS CAN WE EXPECT AT THE 7 KERR LAKE STATE RECREATIONS AREAS?

We rarely hear any news about what is going on with NC State Parks out of Raleigh.  And now that there is big news like the passage of the Connect NC bond, those of us who ardently support our parks on the shores of the John H. Kerr Reservoir are wondering about the plan for expenditures and improvements on the North Carolina side.

“We’re wondering if there will be opportunity for public input as to what things are needed at the SRA’s (state recreation areas).  Historically, NC State Parks have operated in a vacuum passing down already decided policies from Raleigh, said Kerr Lake Park Watch spokesman Frank Timberlake, adding, ” I think I can count on less than one finger the number of press releases or meeting invitations we’ve had from the Division of State Parks in recent years.  They’re certainly not famous for seeking public involvement.  But mark this, we intend to be involved, visible and vocal on the expenditure of these funds, maybe the last dollars of their type for quite some time.”

Timberlake said that the support group is generally pleased with the passage of the $2 Billion Connect NC bond yesterday.  North Carolina’s infrastructure has been crumbling for some time.  A big concern is that NC State Parks is that the system has been acquiring more and more land areas without committed development funds.

“Our biggest concern now is how the $100,000,000 will be split up among parks and the state zoo.  Larger and more pertinent than that split is determining what amount of bond funds will come to the seven state recreation areas that NC STATE Parks operates on Kerr Lake.

Screenshot_2016-03-16-08-38-12

Transparency has not happened as no known groups including Kerr Lake Park Watch have been asked by the Division of State Parks on how the public who use the seven parks think they should be improved,” said Timberlake.

Kerr Lake Park Watch will now start digging through the bureaucracy to find these answers and to bring them out to view for our members and the public.

 

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