Routt County Fairgrounds to limit long-term stays at RV park

Also, plans are in motion to build new sign

Judge Randy Anderson examines Jett Schalnus' turkey at the poultry show at the 2021 Routt County Fair.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Routt County Fairgrounds will begin to phase out long-term stays at its nine-space RV park, as some tenants have been sticking around for months.

The RV park was built largely with grants to support the operations of the Routt County Fair, and Routt County Commissioners said Monday, March 14, they don’t see it as something that needs to be making money.

“Currently, what it is being used for is, mainly, the nine spots are long-term stays,” said Noel Neal, Routt County’s fair manager. “(Tenants) are there three to six months. Then they’re out for a month, and then they come back.”

Neal said the situation has become time-consuming to deal with, and that a lot of other fairgrounds don’t accommodate extended stays, generally because they don’t have enough staff.

Other local RV Parks like Steamboat Springs KOA don’t allow long-term rentals in the summer, Neal said. She told commissioners she favored a hybrid model that would allow for some long-term stays in the winter but limit them to 14 days from April to October.

This would free up space in the summer months when Neal has had to turn away interested campers because the spaces were full, and she said it would mean spaces were still being utilized in the winter.

“I turn people away all the time because we have full-time renters,” Neal said. “Some people are booking into 2023 already.”

She also suggested upping the price for staying for a month, which currently sits at $650 and includes a full RV hookup. The RV Park has seen electric costs increase by about 82% from 2020 to 2021, mainly because of increased use.

However, commissioners favor doing away with the long-term stays all together.

“This is not about somebody who’s come through town for a few weeks or whatever — this is where they live,” Commissioner Beth Melton said. “I hate to displace people, but I don’t think that’s what this facility is intended for.”

“This was never intended to be a long-term rental situation,” said Commissioner Tim Corrigan, who was on the board when it approved building the RV park. “We never viewed this as a profit center. We might make a few bucks but that was never the intent.”

Commissioner Tim Redmond added that he suspects there would be decent daily use in the winter, with snowmobilers potentially looking to use those spaces.

Still, Neal said the spots are, in a way, mitigating housing issues, and some of the people who are living at the RV park are “in a tough spot.”

Some people have even inquired about using some of the primitive RV spaces, which are only open in the summer and only have access to electricity, for affordable housing.

“This is not going to make a dent in affordable housing in Routt County,” Corrigan said.

Melton added that commissioners are interested in addressing affordable housing issues, but allowing people to live at the fair’s RV park is not a viable answer. She anticipated they would need more staff and infrastructure to accommodate year-round residents.

“It’s really frustrating to hear you talk about the number of people that you turn away because that space is occupied by a long-term renter,” Corrigan said. “That does not support the fairgrounds.”

New sign

Designs created in 2019 of what the new sign at the Routt County Fair will look like.
Courtesy/Routt County

After a year without a sign, there are plans to build a new one for the Routt County Fairgrounds, a project that has been talked about for several years.

The sign was taken down last year because it was falling apart, Neal said.

But the fair got a $36,000 agriculture stimulus grant from the state, which Neal said should cover the cost to replace the sign and maybe upgrade Wi-Fi equipment.

Neal said the plan is to use the same designs the fair board generated when previously discussing a new sign.

“We just want to make the fair more visible,” Neal said. “More welcoming as well.”

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