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Editorial: A precarious situation


It wasn’t a big surprise!

A request that the Town of Stephenville erect a barrier of “No Camping” signs along the paved area behind Harmon Seaside Links’ Hole 15 tee box came to council at its regular general meeting last week.

That area is located on the north side of Massachusetts Drive and was once part of an Ernest Harmon Air Force Base runway.

The request came from Harmon Seaside Park Development Ltd. and the purpose was to impede indiscriminate camping.

In the past five years or so the number of campers setting up there has increased steadily, to the point where Coun. Mark Felix said it was almost encroaching on Hole 15. Coun. Maurice Hynes said it was causing problems with bird control, since gulls impede flights with the airport’s runway located nearby.

Both are valid concerns, of course, but from the perspective of those camping there it probably feels like a kick in the teeth, especially if you are a golfer or somebody who enjoys getting away from home and having a place to get away.

Then there’s the beach side of the road, where people like to camp and just look over St. George’s Bay with its beautiful sunsets in the summer, and enjoy a crackling fire, likely from driftwood picked up along the beach.

To some it’s like paradise, and even people who in the past have camped with their Airstream trailers in the Kin Court area have been quoted as saying, “Where can you get beachfront property for this price?”

Now the Stephenville town council plans to meet with the Stephenville Airport Corp. and Harmon Seaside Links to come up with a long-term plan for what’s going to happen in the beachside location on the south side of Massachusetts Drive.

There seems to be some thought that those using that area will have to pay a nominal fee to camp there, and that it could possibly be administered by the operators of Harmon Seaside Links.

With Indian Head Park set to open this year, there’s also some concern the free camping along Stephenville Beach could have an effect on the number of people who will take up residence there for the summer.

Whether one will affect the other remains to be seen, and what effect charging a nominal fee, if it comes into place, will have on the people who usually camp there remains to be seen.

It seems people who have camped there for the past number of years are respectful and take care of the area, not leaving any mess behind.

Certainly, those who come in from out of town spend money in the town through purchases at local businesses, and some of them are likely golfers, too.

Certainly there are some who enjoy the scenery of the bay rather than a wooded area.

It’s a precarious situation between ousting them and trying to force them into the revamped Indian Head Park. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the meeting that the town and other parties have, and what will happen afterward.

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