Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include details about all three RV campground proposals.
by Kate Shunney
State officials with the West Virginia Department of Commerce on Tuesday afternoon issued a press release regarding the status of proposals to build an RV campground at Cacapon State Park.
A public hearing on three proposals has been set for Tuesday, April 18 at 5 p.m. at Cacapon State Park’s Washington-Fairfax Room.
Those proposals, which have been redacted to block out financial information, were just being made publicly accessible on Wednesday, March 22, through the state park’s website.
Commerce spokesperson Andy Malinoski issued a statement for West Virginia State Parks.
In it, he outlines $151 million in investments in Cacapon in the last several years.
“The proposed project at Cacapon Resort State Park is a continuation of the tremendous investment that the WVDNR has made into our state parks,” the statement says.
“Three proposal submissions were submitted to WVDNR as a result of the RFP. At this time, no vendor selection has been made,” the state said.
“Furthermore, the WVDNR is under no obligation to accept any of the proposals as submitted and may negotiate the scope and specifications of any final agreement. No specific sites within the park have been selected for this potential development,” the release said.
None of the proposals involve management or ownership of current facilities or operations at Cacapon.
Proposals were submitted to the state by March 3 and were set to be evaluated and reviewed by state officials by March 13, according to project documents.
Members of the public have reported making multiple inquiries about the proposals and how to view them.
Late last week The Morgan Messenger requested an interview with state officials about the proposal process and where things stand.
Chief of Parks Brad Reed deferred to the Commerce Department’s spokesman to address questions until after State Parks released their public statement.
Documents for two of the proposals were available at https://wvstateparks.com/bids-and-procurement/
A third proposal link was not operational early on Wednesday, but later allowed access to that proposal.
Blue Water Corporation
Blue Water Development Corporation of Ocean City, Md. submitted a 39-page proposal to build an RV resort at Cacapon State Park. The company has built or operates RV resorts and campgrounds in Virginia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Kentucky, Delaware, Maine, Colorado, Oregon, New York, and North Carolina.
Blue Water reportedly considered three sites for RV camping at Cacapon.
Site 1 was considered behind the Nature Center and would include 240 sites. Amenities added to the park would include a welcome center, pool, water slides, cornhole, pickleball and golf cart rentals.
Site 2 uphill of the current main cabins was considered not feasible.
Site 3 is proposed north of the park’s upper cabins and north of the northern portion of the Ziler Loop and would include 350 sites.
Blue Water proposes to use the upper Cacapon Lake, which is a reservoir and fishing area, as a recreation area by adding a beach, fishing piers, water slide, Aquabana, kayak dock and mini golf.
The company also proposed building a viewing tower with an event center and overlook area higher on the ridge above the lake or RV camping area.
River& Trail Outfitters
River & Trail Outfitters of Harper’s Ferry submitted a 66-page proposal to add 50 RV camping sites at Cacapon in the area of the Cabin Loop Trail area.
River & Trail Outfitters runs Brunswick Family Campground in Maryland as part of a public/private partnership.
The company proposed adding an Airsoft shooting course at the park’s wobble clay course, and offering shuttle bus services for mountain bikers, plus mountain bike rentals.
River & Trail Outfitters rejected an RV campground behind the Nature Center site because of interference with bike trails and after discussions with park supporters, they said in their proposal.
Their proposed campground site is north of Middle Fork Cabin Lane and would have a gravel road leading to 22 pull-through sites and 28 back-in RV sites.
A third proposal by Scenic LLC presented an alternative path to accommodate RV camping in the area. Scenic LLC in several years into the planning and permitting for a KOA campground in Great Cacapon, roughly 14 miles from Cacapon State Park. CEO Aaron Bills proposed that the West Virginia DNR could establish a partnership with his private operation to host RV campers and have a “symbiotic relationship” with Cacapon State Park.
“Our respective resources overlay and complement very nicely with minimal duplication, and we hope for and anticipate lots of cohesive interaction over time,” Bills wrote.
Bills plainly pointed out that his proposal was not to build an RV campground inside Cacapon State Park.
“Given that Cacapon Resort State Park was constructed by the Federal Civilian Conservation Corps and opened in 1937, it holds a special place in the area with its significant natural beauty and history. For that reason, when combined with a number of geologic and other pre-existing conditions including steep terrain, pristine woodlands and the bike trail network, we do not perceive the park as suitable for RVs — at least in any significant scale — without major disruption,” the Scenic LLC proposal says.
Scenic LLC has designed and engineered a 173-site campground at the base of Cacapon Mountain at the confluence of the Cacapon and Potomac Rivers on a former farm property. Just 48 acres of the 447-acre land parcel is to be developed into a campground area.
The location of the property is below the northern tip of Cacapon State Park, which ends near the Panorama Overlook. Bills noted there may be opportunities for future connector trails between his campground and the state park property.
Bills’ proposal points out that developing a dense campground facility in Cacapon State Park will require working around wet areas, rocky soil and geologic formations, and historic structures from the CCC. The location for his KOA-affiliated campground is in a flat field
Morgan County officials in February wrote a letter to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources asking state officials to consider the location and scope of the RV proposals before moving ahead with any development at Cacapon.
They shared public concerns about impacts of a large-scale RV campground on the Nature Center, ecology, watersheds, traffic, water, sewer, noise, mountain bike trail plans and other aspects of the state park’s public uses. To read more about those issues, read the Morgan Messenger’s ongoing coverage here: Commissioners ask DNR to reconsider aspects of Cacapon campground proposals.