Emergency camping quest takes new turn

JACKSON HOLE, WYO –

UPDATE (6:00 pm) – Any arrangement with Kody Wojtasiak will not be coming together according to a town source. Wojtasiak leases the space on S Highway 89 and the landowner is not amenable to any sort of RV camping there.

Discussions surrounding creating a temporary workforce housing camping arrangement took a turn Monday when town manager Bob McLaurin explained during an afternoon workshop that he had just been notified of a private citizen who was offering to come forth with land and a plan.

Kody Wojtasiak (TOJ)

Kody Wojtasiak, who owns Kody’s Kustom Mobile RV Service, contacted town officials about using an in-town property at 1080 S. Highway 89 where he services RVs, or a 3-acre site in Hoback Junction, as an RV park that could be used by travelers and locals. Vitasek said he stands ready to invest $50,000 to $100,000 in developing a campground area. He would charge long-term campers $800 a month for a spot.

“I’ve been trying to figure out a way in town to establish some sort of camping or housing for our crisis we have here in Jackson,” Wojtasiak said. “We need another campground for RVs in town like the Virginian but not as big and not as bulky.”

It is a promising offer that Don Frank was all for looking into.

“It seems like we’re looking at a gift horse,” Frank said. “When a private landowner sees a way to meet a pressing public need, our appropriate response should be, ‘Thank you. How can we help you?’ They do have real land, they have the expertise, and it appears they are wiling to put some capital at play. Let’s seize the opportunity and see if we can’t partner the way we would on housing projects. I would like to pursue this.”

Jim Stanford thought the rental rate was a bit high. He added that the idea has some merit but would needed time for public input. Hailey Morton Levinson and Bob Lenz both wanted the RV park to be available solely to the local workforce.

To make an RV park happen, town leaders would have to act fast. Ordinance changes to allow camping uses would require either an emergency ordinance, or fast-tracking three readings of a regular ordinance with the minimum 10 days between special meetings. Staff is looking into the viability of Wojtasiak’s offer.

Parking lot campground

Meanwhile, overnight parking in the public lot shared with the Rec Center didn’t get very far from where it was left two weeks ago. The 44-space section identified by town staff caused heartburn for neighbor Joe Kudar, who owns the Kudar Motel, a property that has a limited amount of RV pads abutting the parking lot.

“I would encourage you to find another space,” Kudar said. “We tried this in Green River and had a lot of trouble with crime. Look for another place where you’ve got a little more room.”

Jeff Walker also commented at the meeting on workforce camping, noting the latest iteration of the parking lot campsite did not distinguish between workforce and tourists. “Having locals compete with tourists doesn’t make sense to me. Let’s not turn it into a free-for-all with tourists and locals.”

Mayor Pete Muldoon agreed, worrying spots would be quickly taken over by opportunists looking for cheap overnight accommodations.

“I would like to move forward with a permit basis on the parking lot. Permitting seems to be necessary. As someone who has done a lot of boondocking, there is a lot of information out there about where you can go with your camper and word spreads very quickly. If you don’t permit it you risk ending up with tourists there and I don’t think that’s the intent. We want our workforce housed.”

No water or power would be brought to the parking spaces. Portapotties would be installed. Those staying overnight would be required to wake up and move out at 7 am. They would be allowed to return for the day and night at 8 am.

Town staff was instructed to continue hammering out details of what the overnight parking space would look like, how it would be used, or even where it would be placed. Lenz, for one, favored part of the north lot behind the Rec Center.

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