An abandoned RV park near Parks will be gaining a second wind after the Coconino County Board of Supervisors denied a citizen appeal of the project earlier this month.
The project located on just over 16 acres just west of the intersection of North Parks Road and Old Route 66 had already been approved by the county planning and zoning commission.
But the commission’s decision was appealed by residents of Parks who said the project would negatively impact traffic in the area and did not fit within the confines of the Parks area plan that outlines the kinds of development appropriate for the community.
The reestablished park, proposed by the company PLM Adventures, would include 80 RV sites, plus 25 tent camping sites.
Although it has been abandoned for several years, the property has a long history as an RV park.
County records show a RV park operating on the site since at least the early 1980s while some longtime residents have reported that even the park existed even before then, well into the 1970s.
Of the 80 RV sites, 10 would have RVs semi-permanently parked on the site and would be rented out to visitors who may not own an RV but still want the experience of staying in one.
Given the site's history, there is a significant amount of preexisting infrastructure on the property from when the previous RV park was operational, including bathrooms, shower facilities, laundry buildings and smaller things such as picnic tables at individual sites and power outlets for RVs.
With the project moving forward, those older facilities will be demolished so that new ones may be built in their place, said Jay Christelman, county community development director.
Two new racquetball courts will also be constructed.
The property borders both federal forest land, ranch land and the old Rack in Ball restaurant that has been closed for several years, and also a Texaco gas station.
But the project has proven controversial with many Parks residents, with many attending the meeting and speaking in opposition to the project.
One such resident was Savannah Sydney who was also involved in the appeal of the original approval of the project.
Sydney told the board of supervisors that she and many of her neighbors believe the project would make worse the already bad traffic and congestion in the area, especially at the intersection of North Parks Road and Route 66, and near the gas station.
“People have been concerned about that because it's already an issue without [the RV park]. During hunting season and in the winter with snowplay its absolutely insane, and this will only increase with hundreds of campers, many using ATVs to travel around that small area,” Sydney said.
Sydney added that the Parks area plan calls for very basic and limited commercial areas in order to preserve the rural character of the area, and that building the RV park in a more limited or smaller fashion would better fit within that plan.
Of particular concern for residents is the potential for an increase in off highway vehicle traffic such as ATVs and dune buggies that visitors might bring and have become and ever increasing issues across rural counties and forest lands throughout the West.
But the developer contend that they are taking measures to limit the impacts of the RV Park, and County staff say the traffic impacts will be limited.
With the only public entrance into the RV park on Old Route 66, county traffic engineers said the project would not generate enough traffic to require the construction of new turn lanes.
“Yes, the number of vehicles are increasing, there will be more vehicles on the road, but really anyone driving on that section should not be impacted,” said Nick Hall, county traffic engineer.
A second road would allow emergency access to the park, and allow vehicles to exit, onto North Parks Road.
Additionally, the developer said they would not allow visitors to drive ATVs or buggies within the park, helping to prevent visitors from driving them around the community.
Visitors would be required to transport those vehicles off site before unloading them and using them.
And in the end, the board of supervisors unanimously sided with the developer.
Board chair Matt Ryan, who’s district includes the area in question, said that in his view, the project fit very well within the scope of the Parks area plan, and that concerns over traffic impacts had been addressed.
Ryan also pointed out that by county code, they developer could have proposed almost 200 RV spaces but has proactively decided to propose much less than that number in response to community feedback.
“I understand that everybody wants everything to stay the same and we're wrestling with similar issues throughout the county. ... There is a suggestion that, ‘Oh, this could get out of control.’ To the contrary, for what you see on the forest where there is very little managed activity, here you have a managed park,” Ryan said. “Traffic is a matter of perception. That's why we bring traffic engineers in to do an analysis and look at capacities and determine the appropriate uses."
Updated for more information at 8:50 a.m. on Sept. 28.
Adrian Skabelund can be reached by phone at (928) 556-2261, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @AdrianSkabelund.