The Rusk, Texas, city council isn’t sold yet on Walter Preble’s plan to house natural gas pipeline construction workers moving to Rusk by leasing land from the city to expand his RV park.
The council met last week to discuss the matter and at the conclusion authorized the mayor, city manager and Preble to talk and work out a lease arrangement, according to the Rusk Cherokeean Herald.
Preble has asked the city to lease him 15 acres of the old soccer field for additional camping spaces.
Originally the council was told there would be 400 additional recreational vehicles at Preble’s KOA campground. However, approximately two weeks ago Preble told City Manager Mike Murray that the 15-acre tract only had room for 48 campsites.
“Walter, you have done a lot out there and the city appreciates it,” Mayor Angela Raiborn said.
Preble said, “People are calling and looking for camping sites. We want to have rallies here, but we are landlocked.
“There are people already here who are working for a pipeline now under construction. A second one is coming in behind this one.
“We have people coming from across the country. They can’t find housing and we are working to help them. The time frame is short and if we can’t find them a camping space here they will go elsewhere.”
Council Questions Plan Changes
Preble said he wanted this to be a joint venture with the city. “I am ready to share the revenue with the city.”
“We were under the assumption that you were going to have 400 extra campers out there,” Councilman Sam Florian said.
“Then the 400 campsites turned into 48. But, we cannot provide utilities to these sites. We have to treat you just like we do everyone else,” Councilman Kris Morgan said.
If the city leases the 15 acres to Preble, it could treat that site like a subdivision. The city would provide water and sewer lines to the property and then the developer will take it to the individual lots or campsites. Cost to provide city utilities to the property line is $17,500. If the city provides utilities down to the first five campers, it will cost $49,000, which Preble had originally asked. Preble said he expects to spend $100,000 to finish the project. Also, there will be costs for electric service drops on the property.
Preble’s proposal, he said, he would pay the city 8% of the RV rentals on the 48 campsites on the property.
Several members of the council voiced their opinion that it would take several years to recoup the city’s investment.
“We have been in the KOA business before and we are not going to get in it again if I have anything to say,” Councilman Don Jones said.
“I say give him a five-, seven- or 10-year lease and let him fix it the way he should.”
“You are pulling the city in for a third of this,” Florian said. “I can’t go along with this proposal. I can’t see putting up $50,000 of the citizens’ money. I am not going to vote to gamble away the city’s money.”
The local KOA was short 100- 150 camping sites when news of the coming 400 pipeliners came. “We started referring them to other campgrounds in the area and we were still 150 campsites short,” Preble said.