Popular campsite's future in doubt

Seasonal workers staying cheaply at a popular Central Otago camping spot could soon be forced to find somewhere else to live.

The Vincent Community Board will consider the future of Fraser Domain at its meeting on Monday.

A report to the board says a review of the campsite's future was prompted following the death of its on-site caretaker earlier this year.

The domain does not meet campsite service standards, which to implement would cost between $300,000 and $400,000, the report says.

"The impact of the proposal will impinge on a small number of residents to a large extent - those who have historically utilised Fraser Domain as a campsite, as well as local businesses whose seasonal workers also use the facilities at Fraser Domain.

"Though these businesses pay rates and will be impacted by this proposal, seasonal workers are not ratepayers and simply use Fraser Domain as a low cost option close to their place of work," it says.

Parks team leader Ian Mann recommends in the report to close the campsite, which could happen as early as September 1.

Options for the board to consider include closing the reserve to camping, engaging a caretaker, establishing a self-contained freedom campsite, handing back the reserve to DOC, establishing a management agreement for the site to be managed through an orchard, upgrading facilities to meet the Camping Service Standards to establishing a "Friends of Fraser Domain" group to oversee the reserve.

If the campsite were to close, the reserve would remain open for recreation purposes, the report says.

The closure of the campsite will increase annual maintenance in Clyde reserves by about $1000, with an additional $500 in 2014-15 to cover the removal of caravans and long-term campers, it says.

An orchardist said it was 50:50 whether the campsite was a service or a risk to the community.

The campsite was a fantastic resource for seasonal workers who used it for short to medium-term accommodation because campsites were full in summer, and rental accommodation was impossible to find, the orchardist said.

"I am a bit concerned for some of the people we employ who are genuinely good people. I'm not sure where they will be able to stay but, by the same token, it has been misused by members of the public and people with nowhere else to go and as a result - at times - it can be a hotbed of drugs and crime."

The Southland Times