Florida’s private RV parks need to remain open during this crucial time so they can continue to provide essential services, including propane, groceries, mail distribution services, and RV site accommodations, according to Bobby Cornwell, president and CEO of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Florida ARVC).
Many of Florida’s RV parks accommodate local workers who live in their RV while traveling for their job, and many have guests who are senior citizens who literally shelter-in-place in their self-contained RV, he noted.
“This isn’t about tourism. This is about providing essential services to Florida’s communities, our workers, and our state,” said Cornwell.
Florida has over 1,000 private campgrounds and RV parks that collectively provide over 140,000 RV campsites, many of which are used by full-time RVers, Cornwell said.
“Our private RV parks and campgrounds are needed by so many people,” he explained. “Without our private RV parks, over 100,000 RVers, many of whom are senior citizens, would be displaced, have nowhere to go, and would potentially be put in harm’s way.
“Our RV park communities are providing water, electricity, sewer and, in most cases, LP gas services, and most of the people staying at these parks are staying in the safe confines of their own self-contained RV,” Cornwell added. “Closing the private RV parks would only make matters worse by jeopardizing the safety and well-being of the RVers who are staying at these parks, not to mention the potential hazards and the negative impact it would have on Florida’s roadways and infrastructure.”
Florida’s 1,000-plus privately owned campgrounds and RV parks not only accommodate tourists but thousands of traveling doctors and nurses, utility company construction workers and others on temporary assignment across the state, Cornwell said. That’s in addition to the tens of thousands of snowbirds and full-time RVers who camp for months at a time in self-contained motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, and park models throughout the state.
In addition to providing electricity, water and sewer hookups, most of Florida’s private RV parks provide a variety of essential health and safety services for their guests, as well as the communities they serve, Cornwell said, citing liquid propane (LP) gas, laundry facilities, dump stations, restroom and shower facilities as well as convenience stores that sell food as well as RV supplies.
“Florida ARVC has issued guidelines to all parks that outline safety protocols they can take in order to keep their residents and guests safe. Park owners and operators are putting these safety procedures into place,” Cornwell said.
These guidelines include but are not limited to closing the registration office and allowing only phone in or online registration; closing inside and outside recreation and common areas; closing the store and delivering items from the store to park residents; designating restroom times or possibly closing restrooms if all the RV units at the park are self-contained and on a full hook-up site; limiting laundry facilities to one guest at a time; limiting pool use to one family at time who has made advanced reservations for pool use, or closing the pool altogether.
If a guest or the public needs propane they can arrange for pick-up and delivery by park personnel. In some cases, overnight guests traveling to get home are allowed a one night overnight stay.
Cornwell also noted that, in addition to providing a safe haven for their guests and residents, RV parks and campgrounds deliver critical community services within the natural gas industry. Many of Florida’s RV parks and campgrounds are licensed as propane gas storage, transmission and distribution centers and employ technicians licensed to service and maintain propane gas operations, serving not just the needs of the RVing public, but also the community at large.
Also, during times of disaster, RVs are regularly called into service by federal, state, local and NGO entities to serve in a host of functions for disaster response. Very often, the RV industry is uniquely able to meet critical needs in an expedited time frame to assist with rapid mobile responses in the face of emergency events. In addition, Florida’s RV parks provide important lodging and housing needs for critical infrastructure workers during these times of need and are important layover points for the general public as they travel to their principal residence or shelter in place in response to various emergency orders, Cornwell explained.