FULTON – Since the annexation of the North Bay Campground to the city of Fulton, Mayor Ronald Woodward has begun discussing improvements to the property.
For several decades, Fulton has owned the campground but paid school and county taxes to Granby because of the property’s location. Now, there is no need to pay those extra taxes and the city will save about $10,000 a year, according to Woodward.
“When the city acquired it, we thought it was an asset and we wanted to make sure we could improve the campground and keep the camping rates affordable,” Woodward said.
Over the years parts of the campground has become outdated, according to Fulton Parks and Recreation Supervisor Barry Ostrander.
With this in mind, he said the campground does not get as many people with tents as they used to, but they do get more people with RVs.
Ostrander said the bathhouses are outdated and the sites with 30 amp service electric hookup cannot handle the increased need for 50 amp services.
He would also like to do a full sewer hookup rather than the dump station campers use now to dispose of gray water and black water.
“We’ve expanded it as much as we can given the current conditions,” Ostrander said. “We’re outdated, but obviously we have made it work.”
Woodward and Ostrander will look at the budget for next year to determine what can be done in the near future. The mayor said they are also looking at grants to fund the improvements to be made.
“It’s an economic engine for the city, we just need to invest a little bit into it,” Woodward said.
Woodward said he would like to install permanent bathrooms but would most likely need to first look into getting grants to help fund the improvement.
He would also like to build cabins to attract more people to stay there during the winter for ice fishing and snowmobiling.
In order to do that, Ostrander said he would need to expand the electricity and other infrastructure work to accommodate them.
“We could easily do it and I think cabins – people who don’t like to tent or don’t own a trailer – it’s ideal for them,” Ostrander said.
As for Lake Neatahwanta, Woodward said since the city bought its own dredge, it has been going through the lake to clear the muck it has gathered over the years. He said dredging the lake will improve the fishing and eventually swimming conditions.
This is the first real year the city has been able to actively dredge the lake because it does not need to rent the equipment.
“First time, we had to pay someone to dredge; that cost us $200,000 a year,” Woodward said. “Then Senator Ritchie got us the money to buy the dredge, then we had to have someone come in to train our operators to run it and it took us a couple years to get the permit from the state of New York to be able to dredge it.”
Woodward said this is the third year of the 10-year permit and thinks, if they are lucky, they can get the lake dredged within the remaining seven years.
He said the lake has natural springs in it and marshlands surround it, and has never been dredged before.
“Over the years a lot of the muck got washed in there, probably over the last 100 years it’s never been cleaned,” Woodward said. “I think once we get that totally dredged, it’ll be good for a long time.”
Visitors have not been able to swim at the beach since they closed it in the 1990s. Ostrander said the lake does not have any health permits that allow swimming.
He said the New York Department of Environmental Conservation does not allow for swimming because there needs to be a visibility of four feet in the water and some other factors.
“The DEC listed it as an impaired lake… There’s certain requirements and testing that has to be done on water quality,” Ostrander said. “The health department won’t issue a health permit until it’s delisted by the DEC.”
Ostrander said if they were able to open up the beach again, it would make it more appealing and would help bring up occupancy throughout the course of the summer.
Woodward said he would like for people to be able to observe the wildlife more. There are blue herons, loons and a bald eagle for bird watchers, plenty of photography opportunities, trails for hiking, and of course the lake to fish in.
Although swimming is not allowed, it is still okay to go fishing in the lake where Woodward said there are many nice black bass and bullheads.
“I want to keep its natural beauty,” Woodward said. “I don’t want to commercialize it. I want it to be a nice, natural spot on our lake… There’s nothing like a camping experience when you’re a kid.”