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Lake camping could prove controversial

Staff writer

Long-term camp spots might be developed south of a low water bridge at Marion County Lake, subject to a formal policy allowing for monthly camping fees.

Neighbors who live across the road from the area being considered are far from happy with the idea.

Lake superintendent Isaac Hett told commissioners Monday he’s gotten requests for monthly camping from construction workers here to work on the Expedition Wind Farm project.

Rural Improvement District No. 2 is working on a water project near the area and will install a water pump, Hett said.

Water can be readily provided to the as-yet-undeveloped camping area, and electricity provided easily as well.

Hett hasn’t checked whether monthly camping areas are available at Marion Reservoir. Commissioners appeared receptive to the idea, but said a new policy for monthly camping would need to be developed.

Doug and Lori Heery, who live across the road from the proposed long-term camping area, weren’t pleased to learn of the proposal.

“We’re not opposed to weekend and temporary restricted camping, but we would be opposed to long-term residential camping,” Doug Heery said.

The Heerys enjoy seeing wildlife — including geese, pelicans, foxes, and bald eagles — that spend time at that section of the lake.

Lori Heery said there had been earlier discussion about setting up rental cabins near the lake’s heated dock.

“If they are thinking about doing that, this would be a much more logical place,” she said.

Another resident, Vicki Hoffer, said she’s always in favor of anything that improves the lake, but she doesn’t consider long-term camping in that location an improvement.

“This is right across the street from me and I thoroughly enjoy the area, walking, taking my grandsons down to play, and I know a lot of other people do the same thing,” Hoffer said. “It’s a very safe place. I would not be in favor of it. I can’t speak for my neighbors, but I would not be for it. It’s pretty frightening.”

Long-term camping is different from families coming out for a weekend, she said.

“I know things need to be developed, but I love the nature out there and the quiet,” she said. “It just would be a nightmare if this happens, and it would make people move.”

Hoffer said she considers having long-term campers in that area a safety issue.

“I just think this is a horrible, horrible idea,” she said. “It really frightens me that this could happen. That is not the location to do that.”

Sherry Conyers said she pays high property taxes to live at the lake, and moved there with the intention of enjoying the view. Weekend campers don’t bother her, but the thought of long-term camping across the road makes her angry.

“It’s a slap in the face to anyone who pays the ungodly high taxes to live at the lake,” Conyers said. “Would I think about selling my property? Yes, I would. We believe this lake is the premiere reason people want to move to Marion County.”

The Conyerses moved to the lake from McPherson, where they paid lower taxes and had good water and electric services. They don’t have such good services here, she said.

Like Hoffer, the idea of developing long-term camping in the area raises safety concerns with Conyers.

Last modified Dec. 2, 2020

 

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