It’s far from bad news that the Caroga Town Board decided to “lend” $36,000 to the campaign to keep the Caroga Lake Campground open this summer, and that, on the strength of the commitment, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has decided to let the campground open this summer after all, but there are nonetheless a couple of concerns that taxpayers in the town, as well as the state, should have about a solution of this kind.
The first is that the money might not be paid back if private fund-raising efforts by Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce President Wally Hart fall short. Lest it be forgotten, the reason Hart had to go to the board with hat in hand is that he couldn’t raise more than a few thousand dollars during the brief time the DEC had given him in order to take Caroga off its hit list.
Hart has planned a golf tournament and a concert fund-raiser for later this summer, and says the money will be used to repay the town — which devoted roughly one-quarter of its fund balance to the effort — but if the fund-raisers fall short, then what?
Hart also envisions asking the town’s local state representatives, Sen. Hugh Farley and Assemblyman Marc Butler, for support through their legislative member items. That, of course, would represent an end-run around the state’s effort to address its budget deficit by closing money-losing campgrounds for the season. In that regard, Caroga Lake has been Numero Uno — the money-losingest — in the state.
Be that as it may, the Caroga Lake campground is still a plus for the region’s tourism business, bringing people and business to the county that it might not otherwise have. So it’s definitely worth something to keep it open. It’s just a matter of whose money.