Miller-Riverview Campground finally open, campers thrilled - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Miller-Riverview Campground finally open, campers thrilled

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Miller-Riverview Park in Dubuque fills up with campers on Friday, Aug. 1: its first day open all year. Miller-Riverview Park in Dubuque fills up with campers on Friday, Aug. 1: its first day open all year.

It's the first of August, and Dubuque's Miller-Riverview Park and Campground is just now opening for the year.

Flooding on the Mississippi kept it closed, when it normally opens in April.

Dubuque owns the campground, so all the revenue lost from the four months it was closed this year is bad for the budget.

However, Dubuque's Leisure Services Department manager Marie Ware said, the money the campground generates is such a small piece of the pie, the city is more concerned about giving people a place to camp.

As the campground opened Friday morning, RVs and tents started filling up the sites.

Chuck Koranda and his family are among those camping there this weekend.

"We've been waiting and waiting and waiting for this to open," he said early Friday afternoon, sitting at a picnic bench with his grandkids.

He and his family usually camp at Miller-Riverview Park every weekend in the summer. This year, however, those weekends have been lost.

"We realized when time is lost, it's gone," Koranda said. "You can't replace it, but you can have fun while it's here."

Joani Vosberg and her husband Terry have been camping here for decades.

"I'm glad the park's open," she said Friday. "We were just waiting for the water to go down, and then we get a big rain again and then (the river would) come up, and we know they got a lot of work to do here and, it looks good, they did a good job."

A month ago, the campground was a muddy mess. Two months ago, most of it was under water.

Ken Clayton is the campground's manager. He said the flooding has forced the city of Dubuque to miss out on some money.

"We bring in a pretty good sizeable chunk of money for the city once we're open," Clayton said. "Like, on the Fourth of July weekend, that's $8,000 we missed in just one weekend."

He said an average weekend can pull in $3,000 to $4,000.

Fortunately, he said, his phone has been ringing off the hook with people chomping at the bit to get reservations now that the park is finally open.

About a third of the campground's nearly 100 electrical hookups are still closed, however. Clayton said the ones set back in the woods with a lot of shade are still muddy and drying out from the flood.

This is the second year in a row where flooding on the Mississippi River has kept the campground closed until late in the season. It didn't open last year until the final weekend in July.

Ware said it's difficult to break down exactly how much economic impact the flooding has had on the budget. Dubuque's fiscal year spans from July 1 to June 30 of the next year, so each fiscal year encompasses two camping seasons.

With that in mind, she said, revenue from Miller-Riverview Park and Campground brought in $53,211 in FY11 (from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011); $80,024 in FY12 (2012 was a drought year, so flooding wasn't an issue that spring); $46,287 in FY13 and $46,916 in FY14.

In its FY15 budget, Ware said, the Leisure Services Department is planning on $60,000 in revenue from the campground. While the month of July didn't provide any income from the park, she's hoping the rest of the season - August through October - combined with good weather in the first half of next year's camping season will help meet that goal.

Ultimately, Ware said, the campground accounts for so little of the Leisure Service Department's budget, that if the campground loses several thousand dollars, the department will have other areas in which it generates more money than expected. She said things tend to balance out.

Ware also cited the city's pools and golf courses as sources of summer-season revenue highly dependant on good weather.

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