Public Campground opens in Ellsworth
An idea three years ago to update restroom fixtures at the Ellsworth ballpark blossomed into a city campground that opened this summer.
Ellsworth City Council member Spencer Swenson said the city received $2,000 for the restrooms in 2016 from the Lyon County, Iowa, Riverboat Foundation.
The mini grant started a three-year $100,000 investment project for the Ellsworth campground.
“When we got the grant, it kind of spiraled from there,” Swanson said. “We didn’t originally think campground.”
Originally the council planned to update the existing restrooms at its ballpark. Rotting sills prompted discussions about replacing the facility, adding showers and a campground.
Ellsworth received two additional $2,000 mini grants in subsequent years.
In 2017 the grant was for electrical hookup costs and this spring’s grant is meant for picnic tables.
The campground is located on city-owned property south of the two ballfields and includes an existing shelter house. The site is east of the Parkview Manor Nursing Home.
The campground consists of 10 camping areas with electrical hookups plus a designated tenting area for additional campers.
Swanson, a camping enthusiast himself, said he visited community campgrounds including Hills, Magnolia and Fulda for campground ideas.
Ellsworth’s campsites are 35 feet by 75 feet with 35 feet between sites. Each has a fire ring and the new restroom/shower facility is handicapped-accessible.
An existing playground is located nearby.
Per night camping fees are $15 for an electric hookup spot and $10 for tenting. Visitors self-register to spend the night at a soon-to-be-erected drop box.
Along with the drop box, Swenson said the city is still placing the finishing touches on the campground and in the new restrooms.
The campground has already hosted a small number of visitors.
Most recently, campers stayed at the campground while visiting a family member in the nursing home and organizers of a recent softball tournament used a camping spot for an air-conditioned camper over one humid weekend.
City officials recognize the campground won’t generate excess funds for the city and they view the project as an additional public service.
“It brings people to town. It shows people what we have to offer,” Swanson said.