County gets trial run on TVA campground

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By Cindy Simpson

Roane County will get to manage TVA’s Riley Creek Campground on a trial basis.

The Roane County Commission approved  a license agreement for Roane County to operate the recreation area with the condition that it only be for a year.

The full commission approved the agreement last week.

TVA is requesting the county open the campground, said Roane County Executive Ron Woody at the March 10 meeting.

“TVA wants to give it to us as opposed to them contracting out with another operator,” Woody added.

Woody said neighbors also want the county to step in to operate the closed campsite. It was closed for major renovations last year.

TVA had made $150,000 in improvements at the site, officials said

“The community is afraid if nobody takes it over it is still public and people will be back there causing problems,” Woody said.

The facility includes 45 campsites, a boat ramp, bath houses, a swimming area and waste dump station..

“It is nice,” Commissioner Randy Ellis said.

Woody said officials are considering making some of the campsites long-term and others more short-term.

He and others discussed how another campsite, Hornsby Hollow Campground in Ten Mile does not take reservations, but it is first come first serve, according to officials.

Commissioner Ron Berry was for allowing reservations because he felt most people would not risk traveling to a campsite if it might be full.

Berry also said the county would be have to take on additional costs to maintain the property if it remains in county control after the trail period.

Those costs include including paving and liability insurance.

Woody was confident cash flow at the facility would handle most concerns.

“I’ll look at our cash flow in 12 months and see how much we can then set aside,” Woody said.

“We still think we can pocket enough money to set aside for the capital,” he added.

Woody said TVA suggested the county contract with someone to oversee the campground so that the person would not be considered a county employee and require benefits.

Park employees  could be used to help mow the grass.

He said the county has enough revenue to at least hire some part-time employees and that there is enough money set aside for Roane County Sheriff Office patrols in the area.

“I guess our risk is very minimal here,” Woody said.