GOVERNMENT CENTER –– After months of discussion the Natural Resources Committee has officially killed their proposal for setting up a county campground. The committee voted to not go forward with the project and instead will focus on promoting existing campgrounds.
“Burnett County is not a commercial business,” said committee Chair and County Supervisor Ed Peterson. “Let’s have a vote to put this to rest. I say we officially withdraw our grants and deny the campground going forward.”
The proposed campground was estimated to cost $1.2 million. The county had already applied for grants to cover the total cost of construction of the campground and Forest Administrator Jake Nichols said his department would have to travel [south] to interview for the grants.
“I don’t want us to go down there and fight for this if you all don’t want to go through with it,” Nichols said.
The proposed location in the Town of Swiss was not favored by the town and they sent a letter to the committee earlier this year that stated their reasons. Among the reasons were noise complaints, added traffic and competing with private campgrounds.
George Costello, Swiss Supervisor attended multiple meetings to voice his disapproval.
“We already have numerous campgrounds in the county and some of those are expanding,” Costello said. “It doesn’t make sense for the county to continue with this project.”
The larger issue with the campground facing the county was consistent maintenance and liability costs they would face down the line with the project.
County Supervisor Steve Austin, who is currently expanding his campground at Oak Ridge Inn in Webb Lake, said that this may be a project they could look into if the town of Blaine shows interest
Since getting elected in April, Austin has said the estimated costs of the potential campground were way too high per site, and those bids would need to be evaluated if they go forward with the project in the future.
Siren Chamber of Commerce was awarded a tourism grant from the county last year and Chris Moeller, Executive Director of the Siren Chamber, came to the meeting to present a PowerPoint of what Siren Chamber has already done to improve tourism.
Moeller has commissioned a Video Project Plan which consists of seven videos; four will be seasonal videos (winter, summer, 4th of July and Gandy Dancer Fly-In/Drive-In), there will also be a destination wedding video, and a “point of difference” video. The final video will be a consolidation of the best parts of the other six.
All the videos, besides the consolidation, will be around 30 to 60 seconds long. The consolidated video may run up to two minutes. The series of videos is being produced by James Netz.
“We’re targeting baby boomers and their families with these videos and they are shot with more of a cinematic feel instead of a regular tourism video,” Moeller explained. “These videos are on Facebook and there we’re targeting residents in the Twin Cities, Eau Claire, the Twin Ports and Chicago.”
The seasonal videos are already completed and were shown at the committee meeting. Committee members were impressed, but wanted to know why they were only seeing videos showing off Siren.
“Emily (Gall) is working with Netz for the tourism coalition,” said County Supervisor Chuck Anderson of the Burnett County Tourism Coalition (BCTC). “It will be county-wide and the Siren Chamber has set the bar very high.”
Gall is the marketing consultant for the Burnett County Tourism Coalition. She said she will have a better grasp on the project in the next 30 days.
In other items:
New Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Cordinator, Becca Klemme was introduced by County Conservationist Dave Ferris. He said Klemme has “hit the ground running” at her new position.
Ferris said the county is continuing to work with local lakes associations to stop the spread of the zebra mussel in the McKenzie Lake System.