A project to build an RV park in St. Maries gained Benewah County’s backing January 27.

Alex Barta of Timber Plus said the county has agreed to support a proposal for the RV park, clearing the way to begin seeking grants for funding.

County commissioners began considering plans for the RV Park in December, exploring the steps required to start the project. The county officially backed the project January 27, agreeing to support a grant to secure funds.

“We submitted two grants on their behalf,” Mr. Barta said. “One was for the waterways improvement fund for new illuminated no-wake signs near Cherry Bend and Aqua Park; the other was to the Parks and Recreation RV Fund for the purchase of land to construct a municipal RV Park.”

Grants from Idaho Parks and Recreation are awarded yearly, and are funded through registration fees paid for boats and other off-highway vehicles. Money collected through these fees are set aside for the grants specifically, which are used to build docks, maintain trails or improve infrastructure and facilities in recreational areas.

Mr. Barta said the project is eyeing a piece of marina property on 1st Avenue for the site of the RV park, but no purchases have been made at this time. As part of their support, county commissioners said they would assist in the search and acquisition of land for the purpose.

Timber Plus needed to raise $12,000 by the application deadline at the end of January. The organization donated $5,000 to the project, and local businesses have also expressed strong support for the project, donating more than $9,000.

While many businesses support the project, several county figures have expressed concerns. Dale Hawkins, acting as Chairman of the Benewah County Republican Central Committee, submitted a letter calling for the county to rescind its support, saying their involvement would use tax dollars to fund a for-profit business in competition with taxpayers.

“We adamantly disagree with a governing entity becoming a business entity that will compete and pull revenue from the private sector,” Mr. Hawkins said in the letter.

While the application for the grant has been sent, Mr. Barta said it isn’t guaranteed whether it will be approved – and it will be several months before the decision is made.

“This is just an application,” he said. “We’ve just put in for a grant to potentially fund this project, and we may not get anything. We’ll likely know later in the spring, and the grant goes live July 1 at the earliest.”

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