Linn County Parks finished the 2016-17 fiscal year with a record $1.87 million in income, some $4,400 over budget, according to parks director Brian Carroll.
Carroll added that is about $150,000 more than the total in the 2015-16 fiscal year.
The county also received another $816,000 in grants and income from RV licensing fees.
“Our total income was about $235,000 when I started here 20 years ago in May,” Carroll said.
The county's fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.
He said July and August income was good, even though the mid-valley has been blanketed with triple-digit temperatures and thick smoke from the many wildfires burning around the state and Northwest.
“We are continuing to see steady annual growth,” Carroll said. “Our summer months are extremely busy and we are seeing more and more growth in our shoulder months, spring and fall.”
Midweek camping is also growing, Carroll said, especially at places like River Bend at Cascadia.
“There are times when we barely can get the camping slips cleaned before the next group is pulling in,” Carroll said.
Carroll said a major project this year was the second phase of the Whitcomb Creek campground expansion, which more than doubles the number of camping slips.
“We’re still working on that,” Carroll said. “Our next thing is to install equipment such as picnic tables and fire rings. We still have to pour 45 table pads.”
Carroll said that although the project wasn’t completed, the new campground area was opened for summer use.
Business at Clear Lake Resort has been brisk, Carroll said, although dense smoke over the Labor Day weekend affected usage.
Carroll told the commissioners he advised staff to take time away from the resort if the smoke was affecting their health.
“Our crew up there said business was pretty light at the restaurant,” Carroll said.
Carroll said he is continuing to replace the traditional wooden boats with new aluminum models.
“Every year we are buying new ones,” he said. “The kayaks have also been popular.”
The rustic Forest Service campgrounds managed by Linn County in recent years had a good summer, Carroll said.
Two new wells will be installed at Longbow and Fernview campgrounds, Carroll said.
“We are also looking at a new water system at Waterloo County Park,” Carroll said. “It is old and it’s taking a lot longer for the water level to recover.”
Carroll said he is researching the possible expansion of Edgewater Marina on Foster Reservoir.
There are currently 48 slips, but the county can expand that to 140 total.
“It looks like it will cost a bit more than we had thought and you know we always look at return on investment,” Carroll said. “The commissioners have given us the go-ahead to move forward with this.”
The next major project on Green Peter Reservoir will be the possible development of boat-in camping slips on the south side of the reservoir, Carroll said. This has been identified as a need for several years.
Linn County Commissioners Roger Nyquist, John Lindsey and Will Tucker approved a grant agreement with the Oregon State Marine Board to install a new ADA-accessible sidewalk, vault restroom and demolish a nonfunctioning restroom at Peoria County Park.
Carroll told the commissioners the project will cost about $28,400 and the grant will cover $19,500. Linn County’s share will be about $8,900 of which $1,000 will be cash and the remainder in equipment match.
Carroll said there were 57 people total on the parks payroll last month, but that number will begin to dwindle as the season winds down. There are 11 full-time staff members.
“It took us a little longer than usual to get everyone in place this summer,” Carroll said. “It was a tight year to hire people. This winter we will review our hiring practices. But that said, we have an excellent crew and many of them will soon be headed back to school.”
The commissioners were pleased with Carroll's report.
“Brian is running an outstanding operation,” chairman Nyquist said. “We have great facilities, the economy is good and we’ve enjoyed support from the residents of Linn County. It’s good, very good.”