December 12, 2016

The Carroll County Board of Supervisors agreed to move forward with relocating a donated house to Swan Lake State Park to be used as a guest cabin with a 4-1 vote at its regular meeting this morning.

The board will donate $5,000 and loan another $45,000 out of local-option sales tax funds to Carroll County Conservation for moving, utility and basement construction costs.

The cabin, whose donors wish to remain anonymous for now, will be placed on a new basement foundation on the site of the now-torn-down North Shelter. The cabin is approximately 900 square-feet and will have a capacity of six when it opens to the public next year.

“We want to have the option to finish the basement in the future, so we’re installing egress windows and making sure everything’s up to code,” said Jason Christensen, director of Carroll County Conservation. “Either way, it’s much more fiscally responsible to do things this way than start from scratch.”

Christensen told the board that the existing, smaller cabin is rented more than 60 percent of the time it’s open from May 1 through Oct. 15 and generates about $5,500 each year.

The current cabin located east of the campgrounds rents for $60 per night with a minimum two-night stay on the weekends and a minimum three-night stay on holiday weekends. There is a refundable deposit of $100.

He said rates on the new cabin will probably be higher because the cabin is larger and more modern.

“We’ll set those prices next spring when we get a better idea of demand,” Christensen said. “We’ve already had people calling about it because the other cabin is booked on the dates they want.”

The no-interest loan is expected to be paid back to the county over the next two fiscal years. Money earned directly from the cabins will go into Carroll County Conservation’s general fund, which can be used for cabin upkeep or new construction.

“I don’t want to get a bunch of cabins built and then find out no one wants to rent them,” Christensen told the board. “But, if we see there’s still more demand after this, we would have the funding to build another cabin.”

Supervisor Neil Bock was the lone ‘nay’ vote. He said he’s in favor of the project but wanted a smaller amount to be gifted to it.

“I think it’s a good project because it’s a source of revenue, but some departments don’t have the ability to generate revenue, and I think those are the departments we should be giving money to,” Bock said.

The cabin is expected to be ready for rental by next May or June depending on weather and other factors. Anyone with questions or wishing to make a reservation can call the office at (712) 792-4614 to check availability or email valerie@carrollcountyiowa.org.