OSWEGO, NY â€“ Last spring, Barry Leemann, chair of the legislature, created the Camp Hollis Task Force to take a look at camp and make recommendations for changes and improvements.
The task force did great work, said Kathy Fenlon, executive director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau. The county has owned the camp for 64 years, and the bureau oversees its operations.
“Their recommendations are a work in progress. Some of them are low-hanging fruit, we can do them easily and some we’ve already done. Other things will be done this year; some might take several years to get done.”
One of the main things the task force looked at was the camp’s infrastructure.
The erosion of the bluff is a big concern.
“Every year we lose real estate,” Fenlon said.
Erosion is claiming about a foot and a half of the bluff each year.
If you stand by the fence at the camp and look out over the lake the problem isn’t really noticeable, she said.
“If you stand down by the lake and look up at the bluff, what you’ll see is a curve like this,” Fenlon explained as she made a ‘C’ figure with her hand. “We need to do something to control that. We need to do a study first before we do anything else.”
Thirty or so years ago, they’d say, “Oh well, it’s time to move the fence back a few more feet,” Fenlon noted.
Last fall, Soil and Water Conservation included Camp Hollis in a grant they applied for, which if the funding comes through would allow them to hire someoneÂ to look at the bluff and give the county some suggestions on how to curb the erosion problem.
“We hope they get that grant. That would really move us forward. They had expected to hear on the grant in January. It’s now March 31 and the state hasn’t awarded the grants,” Fenlon said. “If we don’t get funding for that, we’ll have to look at other options.”
Fenlon is working on a capital project proposal to deal with issues at the camp such as the septic system (located under the playground), relocating the parking lot, winterizing the main building, installing solar panels on the buildings and more.
“The septic system is very old. It just does the job every year,” she said. “It’s not going to hold on forever.”
As the camp gets used more, so does the septic system, she noted.
The parking lot was great when it was built 40 years ago, but it is in between the cabins and the main part of the camp and is also right next to the swimming pool, Fenlon said.
“There is constant traffic through the parking lot. We also built the parking lot back in the day when kids came to camp on the bus. Starting about 10 years ago we took the money out of the budget to bus kids and now parents bring their kids. So every Sunday we have 100 families bringing their kids to camp and we don’t have that many spots in the lot,” she said. “It’s really not a good situation.”
The task force suggested moving the parking lot to an alternative site at the camp. The current location would become green space.
They also recommended the maintenance person at Camp Hollis be there all year.
There is work that isn’t getting done because the maintenance person isn’t there when the buildings are accessible to work on and the camp doesn’t have personnel to mow the lawns.
The task force recommends putting the position back to 26 weeks instead of the 16 weeks it was cut to due to the county’s budget troubles a few years back.
Fenlon said the position will be proposed for the county’s 2011 budget.
Other things the task force looked at included improvements for the cabins, a new bath house with additional showers, pursuing cost savings as described in the energy audits, winterizing the main building and making the trails handicapped accessible.
The committee also recommended the county revisit the fee schedule for camp use.
When camp was free, the beds were full every single week, with a waiting list.
“When we went to a fee schedule, the first couple of years, we were only about 82 percent full. Last summer we were up to about 95 percent. We’ve come a long way in the last few years since we started charging a fee, but we’re not 100 percent,” Fenlon noted.
One thing the task force recommended was a discount for children who attend more than once or if a family sends more than one child. Also, the camp should charge for usage, instead of having a “blanket fee” that covers everything.
The new fee format will begin this year.
Individuals also now have the option to pay Camp Hollis fees using a credit card. The move, so far, has generated additional revenue for the camp, Fenlon pointed out.
For more information, call camp director Jim Farfaglia, senior youth services specialist at the Youth Bureau, weekdays at 349-3450 or 1-800-596-3200 ext. 3450.