As Town council looks for people interested in operating Centennial RV Park, it is hoping the property will accommodate bigger and better things in the future.
Last week council discussed the park’s operating agreement currently held by Marija and Mirko Zelembaba, who want to continue managing the venture. The contract is up for renewal in October.
But the Town passed a motion to advertise for other parties who might be interested in operating the park. Councillor Dave Mattes said the Town received an expression of interest from the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber CEO Bonnie Dancey said Councillor Jack Bennest came to her with the proposition that the chamber could possibly take over the operation of Centennial RV Park.
“This was discussed at a chamber board meeting and it was determined that we might want to bid on the contract based on further investigation.”
Dancey said when the current operators of the park asked for an extension of their contract for 2014, Councillor Dave Mattes came to her and said if the chamber is interested it should send council a letter of interest.
Chamber president Holly Plante confirmed the chamber would like an opportunity to bid on the 2014 contract.
“The chamber board feels the park visitors and the local business community could benefit with a cross-promotional marketing campaign.”
Plante added the chamber is in a position to implement a marketing plan that will improve the economic viability of the downtown core. Plante said they would be more than willing to work with the Town on any improvements or adjustments to the park.
Municipal Manager Tom Szalay said council may consider opening the contract up for competition, suggesting a request for proposals (in October) to garner ideas. He said the contract could be a year-to-year or a multi-year agreement with a cancellation clause.
“It would give us the flexibility in case we sell the property.”
Councillor Jack Bennest said he wouldn’t want to change the year-to-year contract.
Mayor Ron Hovanes said the ultimate goal is for the property to accommodate a “higher and better use.” He noted operating it as a 30-site RV park doesn’t make a lot of economic sense.
He acknowledged the park has been great for the community, but it’s sitting on a prime piece of property and the Town would like to avoid direct competition with other businesses.
Hovanes said council would like to see a residential component in that area to revitalize the downtown core. He noted that a hotel on the property would be great. A previous marketing study determined that Oliver could accommodate a hotel.
The mayor noted the Town has earmarked a portion of the property (at the south end) as a public park. Szalay said if the Town sold the Centennial RV Park property, it would retain this designated piece as park space.
The Zelembabas said the property has been a tourist and vacation site for many years and people come here to enjoy the serene atmosphere by the river.