The Bonner County Fair Board intends to reject a grant of close to $500,000 for a proposed RV campground on a contested site situated between the fairgrounds and the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office.
The fair board members have stated that they were not included in the early stages of the project’s planning and so have resolved to notify the Idaho Parks and Recreation (IDPR) and Bonner County commissioners about their disapproval.
According to the board, the entire undertaking didn’t adhere to the Idaho Code for fairgrounds, thereby excluding their participation.
The board members expressed their inability to accept the grant at this juncture, a decision they hope will be understood by the local community.
Bonner County had received this IDPR grant in 2022 to enhance the land near the Bonner County Fairgrounds for the construction of an RV campground.
As a reimbursement grant, Bonner County would have to bear the initial cost, with IDPR reimbursing the funds after project completion.
However, there’s been considerable contention over this issue. Some critics argue that the land had been unofficially reserved for a new justice center, as the county jail already occupies a nearby plot.
Despite the fair board’s claims, ex-District 3 commissioner Dan McDonald asserts that the board was involved at every stage.
McDonald, who was part of the grant application process, criticized the board for misrepresenting their involvement and claimed that the grant was initially proposed by the fair board director and approved by the board.
Commissioner Luke Omodt supported McDonald’s argument, indicating that the grant application was penned on fair board letterhead and approved by the board.
He expressed surprise over the board’s recent claims of non-involvement. According to Omodt, such projects, like the campground, can generate revenue to support the fairgrounds’ maintenance, which would be in the taxpayers’ best interests.
However, Commissioner Asia Williams expressed opposition to the proposed RV campground.
She emphasized the necessity for the fair board’s involvement in planning and suggested the board of commissioners should improve county government functions, which includes effective public communication.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Steven Bradshaw chose not to comment on the issue. Omodt confirmed, in spite of the fair board’s stance, that the commissioners will seek a grant extension for the project.
The ongoing controversy and decision of the Bonner County Fair Board to reject the grant for the proposed RV campground may be beneficial for private RV campground owners in the immediate term. The delay or potential cancellation of the project could mean less competition for existing private campgrounds in the area.
However, the situation could change if the county commissioners decide to proceed with the project, with or without the fair board’s support. It’s crucial for private owners to follow the situation closely to anticipate potential impacts on their businesses.
Moreover, the discussion around the project offers an opportunity for private campground owners to join the conversation about local development. Their involvement could help shape the future of local infrastructure to their advantage, ensuring a competitive, yet cooperative RV camping market in Bonner County.