EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—Flagpoles, patios and gardens can be found at most campgrounds, but they’re usually not installed by the campers themselves.

These are only a few of the long-term, and even permanent, modifications campers have made at Shakey Lakes Campground, without approval from Menominee County.

“Some of the things our seasonal campers are doing out there is quite elaborate,” said Menominee County Administrator Jason Carviou, at the county board meeting, Tuesday. “It’s turning into a summer home, trailer park-type situation instead of a campground.”

Carviou showed the county board pictures of some of the more “elaborate” campsites, which include campsites with patios paved into the ground, flagpoles and gardens.

“The patio pavers is a big one because they had to dig into the ground,” Carviou said.

At least one campsite has a hole dug underneath the camper. “I hope this was to get the containers for the gray water and sewer in there and they’re not digging a hole to actual drain it,” Carviou said, “because that would definitely not be allowed.”

Other campsites have flagpoles erected, without county approval. Carviou said he was actually “quite impressed” by one of the poles, as it was a 60 to 80-foot structure made of stainless steel.

When asked, Carviou reiterated to the county board that these modifications to the campsites have not been approved by Menominee County.

“As far as I know, nothing has ever come before the parks committee (about modifying campsites) and the parks committee has denied ever giving permission to any of this—nor are they allowed to give that permission, if they ever did in the past.”

Any requests to modify the campsite should go through the administrator’s office, which Carviou explained has not happened in the three years he’s been with the county. No changes are allowed to be made to the campsites without written approval from Menominee County, per the contract seasonal campers sign.

“The legislative history on how these things came to be is very blurry,” he said.

Carviou asked the county board its opinion on the matter and whether he should send letters telling campers to remove their items from the campsites.

“I think it’s tacky,” Commissioner David Prestin said. “There should be a uniform code... I’ve gone into campsites like this and to tell you the truth, it really turns me off when I see porches that are set up and pavers laid in... Whatever they bring in, it should be able to leave at the end of the season. There should not be any permanent structures.

“Just because it’s a past practice, doesn’t make it right,” he added.

Prestin said that seasonal campsites at Klinke Park, another county-owned campsite, does not have the same issue.

The difference between Klinke Park and Shakey Lakes is the option to keep the campsite year-round, Carviou explained. “I think it would be a different situation if we made them move their campers every year or completely cleared the park.”

At Shakey Lakes, the seasonal campers may leave their campers and other personal items at the campsite over the winter and are guaranteed the same campsite the following year. Many of the campers have rented the same campsite year after year for 20-30 years, Carviou explained.

This is only one of several, larger conversations down the road regarding Shakey Lakes Campground seasonal sites. A third of the campground is designated for seasonal campsites, which the county may want to discuss further, Carviou said. He explained that seasonal sites bring in the same amount of revenue yearly as non-seasonal sites, but use more electricity because they’re used all year-round, instead of just in the summer.

Commissioner Larry Phelps said he has been approached by campers who would like to have the opportunity to camp at the sites that overlook the lake. He suggested the county could charge more for these sites, as they’re higher in demand.

“The question is, do we address some of this now or wait until later and have one larger conversation later?” he asked.

Prestin asked, for now, if Carviou would send a letter reminding the campers of the language in their leases and get a date set to address the issue further at the committee level.