Watson asks to renew campsite lease

Published 12:04 am Monday, June 11, 2012

Thom Watson, operator of the Sweet Home Alabama Campgrounds, is looking to sweeten the appearance at the privately leased campground, but Monday, he asked the commission for more time to do it.

On Monday, Watson asked to change his current lease, a five-year contract to sublease the Pt. A grounds from the Covington County Commission. Signed in 2009, the contract has two five-year renewal options and requires Watson to assume all maintenance, operation and insurance responsibilities for the property, which is owned by PowerSouth. By subleasing the property, the county saves approximately $83,000 a year.

Watson wanted commissioners to allow him to begin the second five-year renewal to allow him to recoup costs of upgrades; however, county attorney Julie Moody said the contract would have to be modified to meet Watson’s request.

Watson said electrical work is needed at the campground.

“There’s three meter boxes, when really those need to be combined into one,” he said. “Then, there are several outlets at the campsites that need to be replaced.”

Moody said she didn’t foresee a problem allowing Watson to begin a new five-year term and then allow him the option to renew for an additional five years; however, the commission and those at PowerSouth would have to agree.

“I would say that half of the people who stay at the campground are those visiting Covington County,” Watson said. “The money they spend here is increased revenue for local businesses and the county.

“Running a campground is not a money business,” he said. “I’ve already made several repairs, but others are needed. If I do what’s needed there, it will be two or three years before I see payback, and I need time to recoup those expenses.”

Moody said the commission must vote to change the terms of the contract; however, PowerSouth must agree to the change.

Commissioners Carl Turman and Bragg Carter voiced their support of campsite upgrades.

“I don’t see a problem with it if it makes the campground better,” Carter said.