Windom City Council rejects recommendation to close campground

WINDOM — Windom City Council members heard a recommendation Tuesday night from the Park and Recreation Commission to close the campground at Island Park, which cited numerous state code violations, but the council opted unanimously to keep the campground operating.

The park board arrived at its recommendation last week when Streets and Parks Superintendent Brian Cooley noted a list of the campground's code violations. He'd noticed these things when taking stock of the campground in preparation to reopen it under COVID-19 regulations.

"I was just trying to get a discussion going," Cooley told the city council, adding that he hadn't intended to suggest that the campground should close.

He shared the same list of code violations with the council. Items include:

  • Existing camping spaces are 1,050 square feet, but code requires them to be 2,000 square feet.
  • Bathrooms and potable water are more than 600 feet away, when they are supposed to be no more than 400 feet away. To fix this problem, the city could put up a sign saying that only campers with bathrooms (and no tent camping) are allowed to use the campground.
  • The campground is built in an area that's prone to flooding.
  • The camper dump station is less than 25 feet away from the baseball stadium concession stand and from the potable water faucet. The dump station needs to be at least 25 feet away from both, and it must have a privacy fence around it.
  • Guests must be registered, and a list of guests dating back at least one year must be kept on file.

These violations have been in place since the campground's first inspection in the 1980s, Cooley added.
"It's unknown how (the campground) got licensed, because it never came into compliance," he said.


Cooley further explained that any improvement to the campground must bring it completely into compliance with state code.

Following Cooley's presentation, Mayor Dominic Jones told the council that he opposes closing the campground. The facility is still currently licensed, he said, and the Minnesota Department of Health has not filed a report about the campground.

"I think it would be different if we had a replacement campground," said Jones, who suggested sending the recommendation back to the park board with the instruction that it should come up with a new location before closing the current campground.

All council members agreed with Jones (council member Jenny Quade was absent), and none made an affirmative motion to close the campground.

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