Finding a site at Point Mallard Campground near Decatur, Ala., remains difficult as area residents and visitors snap up new ones as soon as they are added.
The influx of campers is generating additional cash for the public recreation complex, which has struggled over its 40-plus-year life to operate as a self-sustaining, municipally managed enterprise, The Decatur Daily reported.
The campground and the water park consistently turn profits, and the city is banking on those trends continuing into 2013. For the first time, officials project Point Mallard won’t require cash from the general fund at year’s end. Last year, the city had to supplement Point Mallard with a $210,000 general fund transfer, records show.
The campground has free Wi-Fi, 217 sites with full utilities, 16 with water and electric and six primitive tent sites, a coin-operated laundry and playground. Daily rates are $24, plus a 12% lodging tax (5% state and 7% city) while monthly rates are $400 plus tax. About a dozen sites were added last year, and officials are considering more.
The campground made $10,000 more this past October than the last ($75,000 compared to $65,000), and $14,000 more this past November than the last, said Linda McKinney, city finance supervisor. The city projects the campground to net $670,000 in dues this fiscal year, a conservative estimate considering it made $763,000 last year.
“If you don’t have your camper out here, you may lose your spot,” campground host Ravona Ponter of Decatur said. “We have a lot of retirees and full-timers, and then we have the people who I call the snowbirds who are stopping for a little while on their way to Florida. It stays pretty full year-round.”
Ponter has been welcoming new campers and helping them settle since the summer while her husband, Craig, have been doing it for the past four years. The couple live with their daughter and dogs in a camper stationed near the registration office. They still have a home in the city but prefer the quiet of the campground and the kindness of fellow campers.
“We call them our campground family because that’s how it feels,” she said. “If someone sees you out working on your RV, they’ll come over and lend a hand.”
The weather on Dec. 20 left the campground cold, wet and covered with fallen foliage, but campers dressed their RVs in lights and wreaths to celebrate Christmas. Ravona and a campground friend decorated the entrance with green, red and white candy canes, and neighbors light up green handmade Christmas trees each night.