Triplicate Staff

Federal grant may help withcity-owned site

The Crescent City Council has approved plans to reconstruct the Shoreline RV Park, and the city hopes a $777,690 federal grant will pay for a chunk of the work.

The council voted unanimously Monday in favor of the project after learning that it will likely receive the grant through a disaster relief program funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration. It would require the city to contribute $155,538 to the project.

The EDA selected Crescent City's grant application for further consideration due to Del Norte County's designation as a presidentially declared disaster area after last year's tsunami, according to a letter addressed to Crescent City Manager Eugene Palazzo. It does not guarantee final grant approval, however.

"We're pretty sure it goes to another review board step," Palazzo said. "We seem to believe we're going to get the grant."

The project's total cost is approximately $2 million, Associate Planner Eric Taylor said. The remaining funding for the project would come from revenue collected through the city-owned RV park, he said.

The park sits on eight acres of land that the state granted to the city in about 1900, Taylor said. The park itself was built in the 1970s and had historically been leased to a private operator. But many of the lease holders did contributing to the park's maintenance and development, Taylor said. The city took over operation of the park six years ago.

"It was in such bad shape we decided to step in and do something," Taylor said. "We'll be reconfiguring some of the roads and sites and putting in all-new utilities and doing some renovations. We'll be going through and bringing the park up to building code standards."

Currently, visitors must maneuver their vehicles over gravel roads to get into the RV park. Worn metal utility boxes house the electrical outlets, while the sewer hookups are almost buried in the ground. The water and cable hookups sit above ground, at the mercy of the elements.

The project would consist of putting in new sewer, water, electric and cable television outlets. All the hookups would be housed in weather-proof boxes, Taylor said. The city also hopes to widen the RV spaces. This would reduce the number of spaces from 192 to 120-130, but they would accommodate larger vehicles.

In addition to destroying the harbor inner boat basin, the tsunami damaged a seawall that borders the RV park, Taylor said.

The park attracts a substantial amount of sport fishermen, but after the tsunami, the number of fishermen using it decreased, he said. EDA grants are awarded to help communities who are trying to create economic diversification after a disaster.

"In our case when the harbor got demolished, fishing was at a standstill," he said.

The Shoreline RV Park generates about $250,000 annually in revenue for the city, Taylor said. He estimated that for every $1 spent at the park, visitors spend $4 in the community.

"That's about $1 million that gets pumped back in the local economy," Taylor said.

Not everyone is happy with the city's potential grant. Rachel Towe, who has owned the Harbor RV Anchorage with her husband Ken until his recent death, said she doesn't think the grant is fair to Shoreline's competitors.

"We started from the ground up," she said, adding that she and Ken Towe built the park in 1977. "There were sand dunes when we started. We have not had any help from any government organization."

Towe said she doesn't think it's fair for the city to compete with private industry. If it receives money for upgrades, her business should receive money to make upgrades as well, she said.

Councilwoman Donna Westfall said she doesn't feel that taxpayers' money should be used for a city business venture, but she voted in favor of the project because it is using grant money and funds collected through the RV park.

"The city is entitled to be in business like this and they can apply for grants," Westfall said. "It's actually a fantastic grant where 80 percent is paid for by the grant and 20 percent would be paid for by the city."

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