Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -
At a time when campgrounds are supposed to be in the black, one local campground is costing taxpayers money.
Miller-Riverview Park in Dubuque sits right alongside the Mississippi River. It's the view that attracts visitors and campers, but flooding this year has kept the campground closed all season so far.
This is the second year in a row where flooding has hurt the city-owned campground's income.
In 2013, flooding on the Mississippi River kept the campground closed until late July, when normally the park would open mid-April.
Because the city of Dubuque owns the campground, the cost of repairs comes from taxpayers dollars.
Ken and Nancy Clayton have been the campground managers since 2008 and say they're sad the campground's opening is once again delayed.
"We were hoping to get open by July fourth, but it doesn't look like it," Ken Clayton said.
Dubuque's Leisure Services Department will announce on Friday whether the campground will be open in time for Fourth of July weekend.
Steve Fehsal is park division manager with Dubuque's Leisure Services Department.
"This area here is the lowest part of our campground," Fehsal said Wednesday, pointing to an area covered by water. "This is where the [river] water comes in at 14 feet."
He said while the city tries to keep flood clean-up at the park in-house, some expenses are unavoidable, such as having a contractor remove the electrical hook-ups from low-lying campgrounds.
"It's between $1,000 and $3,000 just for that part of it," Fehsal said. "Some of the other costs we sometimes incur, you know, we have to put more gravel on the paths because there's so much silt that comes in....so that can be another $6,000 to $10,000 per year."
He said some campfire rings need replacing after each flood - an additional cost to taxpayers.
The city is also missing out on revenue from the more-than-100 campsites.
Ken Clayton, however, remains hopeful.
"Last year, we almost made up for the lost time," he said. "We had people staying for weeks instead of just the weekends."
Marie Ware is head of Dubuque's Leisure Services Department. She said the department has $25,000 in its budget to start installing paved campsites, so taxpayers don't have to keep paying to repair the gravel sites when the river washes them out. The department won't be able to start working on that project, however, until the river levels drop and the campground dries out.
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