Each winter and spring, the Gulf State Park campgrounds in Alabama are home for several hundred snowbirds, but some of those winter residents are hopping mad about changes being made to the way reservations in the park are handled.

At a town hall-style meeting in the park’s activities building Thursday night (Jan. 30), the 225 chairs set out weren’t nearly enough to hold all those who came to discuss the issue, leaving dozens of people standing along the walls, the Alabama Media Group reported.

“People do get upset and that was expected, so I just tried to explain it the best way I could,” Gulf State Park superintendent Lisa Laraway said after the meeting. “You’re never going to please everybody.”

Several issues were addressed during the meeting, which stretched well past the allotted one-hour time frame, but one of the primary concerns was the change from a “first-come, first-served” situation in which campers could choose any vacant site after checking in at the park. Now campers sign up for a particular street in advance and are limited to available sites on that street.

The residents complained that popular sites sat unused for long stretches because they were reserved by people who would not arrive until later in the season, while others who were already in the park had to stay on a different street. Others were upset because they could not get reservations near friends who they’ve camped next to for years.

Laraway suggested making reservations together in advance and said the park would do its best to accommodate requests within the reservations system.

“When you go to a specific reservation system, you know what you’re getting before you show up at the park,” Laraway said. “Most people want to know where they’re going to before they get here.”

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