Southwest Michigan is known as a premier tourist and outdoor recreation destination, and a wide variety of private and public campgrounds are available to serve visitors.
But a proposed state campground in South Haven Township is driving a heated public debate over the nature of private vs. public competition — and the issue may be headed to township voters, the Herald-Palladium reported.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) purchased the failed 58-acre Riverwoods residential development along the Black River and the state’s Kal-Haven Trail, and officials plan to open a new state campground.
“The state’s excited about it because this is a campground along a linear trail,” said Township Supervisor Ross Stein. “They’re hoping to get bicyclists in there that will use their backpacks and go camping.”
Area campground owners aren’t too concerned about tent sites and rustic, or primitive, camp sites at the new development.
“Between all of us (in the area), we don’t have even 20 tent sites. It’s not a market that we service,” said Jim Horan, a manager at the Sunnybook RV park in Geneva Township, a few miles east of South Haven.
But the potential for RV sites has them worried. Area campground owners say they are very concerned about how many full-service RV sites — their primary revenue source — will be developed at the state site.
Martin Super, owner of Jensen’s RV Park & Motel in Casco Township, is among those concerned. “I am not against competition, period,” Super said. “But when the competition is so one-sided and so unfair, then it’s domination. I can’t fight that.”
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