Affordable houses proposed in Cannon Beach budget

Cannon Beach RV Resort.

Imagine what Cannon Beach would have experienced if the Rajneeshees had settled in Cannon Beach.

After a renewal of the contract between the city and Escape Lodging to manage the city-owned RV Park, on Wednesday, March 6, members of the City Council met with representatives of the lodging company for a look back and update of the RV Park and how it went from a potential cult site to a thriving visitor destination.

Escape Lodging President Patrick Nofield displayed a 1985 Eugene Register-Guard article about how the Rajneeshees were scoping land in rural Cannon Beach for their center which prompted the city’s quick purchase of the 52 acres for $2 million.

The RV Park’s history was a part of Escape Lodging’s annual report in preparation of their contract renewal with the city. Nofield brought key members of his team to discuss how the RV park fared over the last year, and shared the parks storied history as well.

The city later purchased the land and contracted with Escape Lodging in 2002 to manage the RV park and resort. Since that time, the city has reimbursed the private business for any expenses incurred while income goes directly into the city bank accounts.

Nofield said that there were “no regrets” in the site purchase and shared wisdom from the Steve Martin, his business partner and mentor in the venture. Martin died in 2000.

“Steve said that the money is a ‘report card’ as to how well we’re serving people,” Nofield remembered.

In exchange Escape Lodging gets a small monthly fee and a percentage of the profits, and during the winter months sometimes those profits are slim to none. This past year the net profit for the site was close to $500,000, although January and February bookings were “extremely low.”

The city put profits to use, Nofield said. Recent upgrades included improvements to sanitation, electrical and wireless communications.

The park has also recently added an electric vehicle charging station which is being used one to two times per day.

Bigger projects coming up will need council approval, Escape Lodging CFO Becki Filan said, but the park needs constant maintenance. Small ongoing needs like a new HVAC unit for the pool and picnic table repairs are on the list, but the roadbed needs major repairs and that won’t be a cheap fix.

“We take expenditures over a certain level to the council,” Filan said.

City Councilor Nancy McCarthy asked Nofield’s input regarding the ongoing discussions of alternative uses for the site.

The city has added land adjacent to the RV Park as a possible location for a future city hall or public safety building. The land has also been considered as a site for affordable housing.

Nofield said Escape Lodging would like “a seat at the table,” whether future uses on neighboring land include tiny homes or a new city hall.

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