Under a clear blue sky, dignitaries cut a new blue ribbon to mark the start of a new partnership at Tub Run Campground in Confluence, Pennsylvania, April 9.
The ribbon cutting denotes the recent partnership of the Tub Run Campground to Laurel Highlands River Tours and Outdoor Center. The campground was previously managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Pittsburgh District.
“This partnership not only allows a local business to do what they do best,” Lt. Col. Gerald Dull, deputy district commander said. “It will bring enhanced services and facilities to the campground.”
Dull said even though Youghiogheny Dam is one of the few federal dams in the country that is congressionally authorized to release water in support of downstream whitewater activities, those activities still compete for federal funds.
“We prioritize funds first for the purpose of saving lives and preventing flood damages,” he said. “Upkeep and enhancement of our recreation facilities is extremely important to us, but there are private sector businesses, such as Laurel Highland, who focus on one mission – providing quality recreation to visitors of the region.”
According to Gregory Japalucci, district reality specialist, out granting is a win-win for everyone involved.
Before the out granting, Tub Run was a federally-run campground. It was falling into disrepair and was understaffed. The water treatment plant on the property was in need of repair, the shower facilities needed updating and repairing, and the electrical services needed updating. Unfortunately, due to a lack of federal funding, the district was unable to make any of the needed repairs.
“We got to take a property that was quickly becoming an underperforming liability and turned it into something positive for the district and the community,” Japalucci said.
“I can remember coming here as a girl with my parents,” Suzanne Estock, Youghiogheny River Lake park ranger said. “It was always a great place to come and I have fond remembers here. It’s hard to see it change hands, but out-granting this campgrounds means we can allocate that money to another campground.”
Japalucci said most people know the Corps because they are boaters or campers, but recreation is the by-product of our mission which means up keep of these sites can be challenging.
“As far as funding recreation sites, we [the Corps] have had to get creative,” Japalucci said.
Laurel Highlands signed a 25-year lease for Tub Run. The lease gives them the right to make improvements and use the site as part of their recreation inventory, but it also makes them responsible for the maintenance.
According to Elizabeth McCarty, Laurel Highlands River Tours and Outdoor Center, they intend to invest $170,000 into Tub Run within the first year of their lease.
“We are so excited to be able to acquire this fully functioning campground that has access to this beautiful lake,” Elizabeth McCarty, Laurel Highlands said.
She said part of the planned upgrades included repairing the water treatment plant, upgrading the electrical, adding cabins on the lake, and offer a wide variety of recreational water and land sports.
“Economically, out granting this campground is going to help the community’s local businesses, local marinas and concessionaries,” Japalucci said. “This is not privatizing; it’s partnering.”