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Legislators Hear Report On Camp Hollis

OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting this week, the county’s health committee heard recommendations from the Camp Hollis Task Force.

Kathy Fenlon, director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, shared the report with member of the committee.

Last April, Barry Leemann, chair of the legislature, appointed the task force to take a look at the camp and make recommendations for changes and improvements.

Nationally known anti-smoking and anti-tobacco speaker Rick Stoddard holds a photo of his late wife, a cancer victim. He was the keynote speaker Thursday as the 13th annual Teen Health Conference got under way at Camp Hollis. More than 80 students are attending. They will have the opportunity to explore critical physical and psychological health issues.
Nationally known anti-smoking and anti-tobacco speaker Rick Stoddard holds a photo of his late wife, a cancer victim. He was the keynote speaker Thursday as the 13th annual Teen Health Conference got under way at Camp Hollis. More than 80 students are attending. They will have the opportunity to explore critical physical and psychological health issues.

“The county has owned the camp for 63 years,” Fenlon noted.  “Thousands and thousands of children as part of growing up in Oswego County have gone to Camp Hollis. Things have changed over the years and what was good for kids 60 years ago might not be the same today.”

Building needs and infrastructure needs have also changed over the decades, she added.

The biggest piece of the report deals with the camp’s infrastructure.

“The camp is 63-years-old. Things wear out,” Fenlon said.

Erosion of the bluff is a major concern, Fenlon said, adding “We are losing real estate at the camp due the erosion. It’s nothing new. Twenty years ago, people didn’t know what to do about it. Now, there are means to address this sort of problem.”

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.

“But, 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.”

The study would tell how much of the problem is due to wave action, wind and water that runs off the bluff down to the shoreline. That provide data would allow the county to determine the best way to address and correct the problem.

The second recommendation by the task force was for a maintenance person at Camp Hollis for the entire season.

“Camp is open from the end of April through the month of October and the beginning of November we have had groups using the camp,” Fenlon said. “The grass grows in May and it grows in October. And the time to do maintenance on the buildings is not in the summer when we’ve got the building used seven days a week. Maintenance is done in the off season.”

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.

The cost of it would be $4,302.

The task force also looked at the camp’s septic system, which is located under the playground.

“We have not had major problems with the septic system. We do have to have it tested every year. Because the committee was looking at infrastructure issues, it was time to look at it and say is it meeting our needs, is it going to meet our needs in the future?” Fenlon said.

As the camp gets used more, so does the septic system, she noted.

The parking lot was also a concern, according to the task force’s report.

It is located next to the swimming pool; all the cabins are behind it.

For the kids to access the main grounds of the camp, most of them have to through the parking lot, which creates a safety issue.

“The parking lot also only has 48 spots in it. That was great 60 years ago, or even 10 years ago when we bused kids to camp. The bus was eliminated about 10 years ago because of budget concerns,” Fenlon said. “Now we have 100 families bringing their kids to camp and picking up their kids. It’s a mess because we don’t have enough parking spots.”

The suggestion was made to move the parking lot to an alternative site at the camp. The current location would become green space.

The task force also looked at the possibility of installing a windmill or solar panels at the camp. The county’s cost to do this would be paid back with cost savings on electrical billing, according to the report.

They also noted other possible updates that would make the camp more energy efficient.

Other things the task force looked at included improvements for the cabins, a new bath house with additional showers, 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. This summer we were up to about 95 percent. We’ve come a long way in the last five years since we started charging a fee, but we’re not 100 percent,” Fenlon noted.