The April 1 opening of a municipally-owned Kampground of America (KOA) franchise in Rusk, Texas, has been delayed as local officials are seeking additional funding for the project.
According to the Jacksonville Daily Progress, the city of Rusk has already spent in excess of $500,000 on infrastructure and construction expenses.
An additional $200,000 had been secured from a local bank, but after soliciting recommendations from a KOA consultant, council members decided in a March 17 meeting to reapply for a loan of $500,000.
The paper reported that the loan process could take up to six weeks, pushing back the planned opening.
Prior to refinancing, the project consisted of two phases. The first stage called for the construction of 63 campsites, the site’s central buildings and recreational areas while phase two would add 37 more campsites. A swimming pool also is included in the plans.
“It is a for-profit entity of the city of Rusk,” said City Manager Kevin Bowden. “The city owns all the property, facilities and KKG will operate under that name for the city of Rusk. Profits will go back to the city. The funds will go back to the recreation fund.”
Mike Gast, communications director for KOA, said he didn’t know of another city-owned KOA offhand, but Rusk officials pointed to another successful park across the state line.
Rayne, La., opened a city-owned RV park in January 1994, starting with 350 campsites. The park now has 750 available sites and is booked through 2006, reported Rayne City Clerk Bobby Hebert.
Rusk city officials met opposition from residents, but forged ahead with the project. Bowden estimates all costs for the campground will be replenished by KOA income in six to 11 years. He said if KOA is not successful, the loans will be repaid out of the city’s general fund.
“This KOA is going to make the city of Rusk money,” said KOA manager Pat Cook. “I have no doubt about that.”
The number of calls coming in to the city since the campground was listed on KOA’s website supports that optimism. Bowden said he receives inquiries about the campground 10-12 times a day.