Chamber officials talk proposed RV Park (copy)

Washington Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism Director Emily Underdown, left, and Executive Director Jennifer Giesike share their plans for a recreational vehicle park in Washington Nov. 1. 

Plans to build a 20-stall recreational vehicle campground at the intersection of Ninth Street and International Avenue in Washington have been nixed after neighbors voiced their concerns about the plan. 

“After the (Nov. 1) workshop, we decided to take a step back and look at other locations,” said Jennifer Giesike, executive director of the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce. 

She declined to specify which other locations the chamber was evaluating for the RV park. 

Giesike said the chamber determined an RV park in Washington could be done successfully on property the city owns at Ninth and International after reviewing information and plans for RV parks in Moberly, Mexico and Hermann. Earlier this year, city officials proposed spending $200,000 of the $2.6 million the city received from the American Rescue Plan, one of the federal government’s COVID-19 relief programs, on the park.

“We feel like we’ve done the research and are ready to go,” Giesike said. “The location of it is our roadblock.”

City officials considered sites around Main Park and near the Town & Country fairgrounds but determined the Ninth Street location was “ideal” given its proximity to Highway 100. The city acquired the property after a series of flood buyouts along Busch Creek. Washington City Administrator Darren Lamb said the campground was an allowable usage of the land per the terms of the federal buyout. 

However, residents from the adjacent neighborhoods showed up en masse at city council meetings to urge the council to reject the plan and build the RV park elsewhere. 

In June, Amy Howell asked the council to consider how an RV campground would “change the neighborhood,” adding that residents already deal with “riffraff” from the nearby skate park. Among her other concerns, she said, were increased traffic along International Avenue, the trash collection from the campground, the construction of a sewer system there and increased water runoff at the intersection, which is already prone to flooding.

Several residents attended the Nov. 1 workshop and then privately met with chamber officials after the meeting. It was after those discussions that Giesike said the chamber opted to reevaluate the proposed location.

“The chamber is here to support businesses and to help Washington grow. We want to do what is best for the community, not upset our neighbors and friends,” Giesike said. 

Despite the setback, she and other officials said they remain committed to bringing an RV park to Washington. 

The chamber is “constantly getting phone calls about if there is a campground in our area,” Giesike said, adding the nearest RV campground is Pin Oak Creek Campground in Villa Ridge. 

“We need to offer that lodging option,” she said. “The demand is there. The need is there.”

Under the current proposal, each rental space would be equipped with sewer, water and electric hookups, with bookings coordinated online and paid in advance. The 30-foot-by-50-foot spaces would cost $35 per night, and guests would be limited to 10 consecutive nights of stay. They would not be allowed to book another spot within the campground without leaving for at least one night.

“(The RV park) is not dead,” Giesike said. “We are pretty much ready to rock and roll once we have a location finalized.”