News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 28, 2014

Camping rules change in ramp up for summer season

Shelter payment methods OK’d; trail design paid

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Similar to policies at state parks, campsites in Vigo County parks will now be available for rent for a maximum of 14 days,

The Vigo County Parks and Recreation Board on Monday approved new park policies, which will be in effect when park campgrounds open Thursday.

“Ultimately our goal as an organization is to meet national standards for operating a recreational campground,” said Superintendent Kara Kish.

Campsites mark the biggest change in park policy. Previously, campsites could be rented for up to 30 days. The new 14-day limit matches that of current polices in Indiana public parks.  After 14 days, “all individuals occupying the campsite must vacate the campground for no less than 7 days,” the new Vigo park policy states, which also matches state park policies.

Another change involves the U.S. Postal Service.

Kish said some campers had been receiving mail at campgrounds. The new policy states that “no camper shall use a Vigo County park address as a legal mailing address. Any personal mail received at a park address will be immediately returned to the sender.”

Another change in policy is adopting restrictions on pets.

“We never had a limit on the number of pets, but we have had more people bring in animals,” Kish said after the meeting.

The new policy sets a maximum of three domestic pets permitted to stay on a campsite. Pets must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Pets must not be left unattended and may not be tied to a tree, picnic table or other Vigo County fixture, according to the new park policies.

Also, pet enclosures are prohibited and pet waste must be properly disposed of by owner in a trash receptacle. “If the pet becomes a nuisance or danger to park or campground patrons, due to excessive barking, destruction of Vigo County property (including grass), intimidation, etc., the camper will be required to remove their pet from the campgrounds immediately,” the policy states.

“Pets are prohibited to enter any Vigo County indoor facility except when permitted by Indiana State law,” the policy states.

Campsites are issued on a first-come, first-served basis to the public. “No reservations are taken in advance and campers are not permitted to ‘hold’ campsites for anyone,” the policy states.

The parks, starting Thursday, will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. After 10 p.m., campers may not exit or re-enter the parks.

In other business, the parks board voted to implement credit/debit card charges for renting a park shelter, paying for a park program or purchasing maple syrup. The parks department previously accepted only cash, checks or money orders.

Kish recommended the parks department absorb credit card fees totaling 2.5 percent. For example, a $50 rental fee would actually generate $48.75 to the parks department.

“That would be a loss of about $700 last year if payment was made 100 percent by credit card,” Kish said. “I would imagine that the credit card revenue would be lower and our losses would be lower. It is providing a public service. In a public system, I would not like to see the user penalized for using a credit card,” Kish told the parks board.

The parks department will pay the credit card fees monthly, through an automatic debit payment.

The parks board also supported the payment of $44,598 to Hillride Progression Development Group for the design of the Dale R. Griffin Memorial Bike Park at Fowler Park. The company previously undertook a feasibility study for the park. The parks board in March voted to move the bike park concept into the design stage. Kish recommended Hillride for the design as the company “is perfectly aligned with our vision and of the advisory council” for the bike trail.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.