The work is well underway and the Woodlawn Regional Park Authority is still hoping to have the new campsites ready for overnight visitors this summer.
Although rain and winds have put a cramp into the scheduled opening of the former Boundary Dam Recreation Site as a full-fledged regional park, capable of handling recreational vehicles, tents and trailers, there is still the possibility that the preparation work will be completed this month.
"We have a drafted agreement with SaskPower to make the Boundary Dam site a regional park, as part of Woodlawn Regional Park. It hasn't been signed yet, but the work has begun," said Greg Hoffort, administrator for the RM of Estevan in which these two parks sit, as well as a member of the Woodlawn Regional Park Authority.
In fact, all 76 camp sites have had a lot of preparatory work completed and are almost near completion, said Hoffort.
"We should have all 76 full service campsites ready this month. That means power, water and sewer disposal services," Hoffort added.
For the short term, potable water from the City of Estevan will be hauled to the new regional park site, located just a few kilometers south of the original Woodlawn Regional Park with its more than 100 full service camp sites.
"The committee will be looking at drilling a well, or some other permanent water source, in the future, but for now we'll be hauling water to the new park," said Hoffort.
Besides the damp conditions that held up the electrical power installation, there were some significant wind issues to deal with. Wicked winds earlier this year led to the loss of some trees in the new park, which had to be cleaned up before development could begin again.
Rental rates for campsites will be established soon.
Another obstacle for the new park will be the need to set up and establish a proper gatehouse and concession stand. A dual-purpose building is available, but not on site yet. Once it does get established on the site, regional park fees will apply.
So while visitors to the Boundary Dam site will lose "free access" to the beach and boat launch area, they will get, in return, the services of full-time park staff, beach maintenance and possible expansion, and security including evenings, as well as the aforementioned camp sites that can be booked for single night stopovers for fishers and campers, or for the entire camping season. No overnight camping was ever allowed at Boundary Dam Recreation Site due to the lack of services.
"There should be continuous maintenance of the beach area, which will help revive its popularity," said Hoffort, referring to the small sandy area located near the boat launch that had suffered from lack of attention for the past decade or more.
"The weather has made the official opening date a bit of a moving target," said Hoffort when asked to speculate as to when the preparation work would be complete.
The Estevan Wildlife Federation which has had a significant presence at Boundary Dam, having been involved in the boat launch development, as well as the operation of their own club house, trap shooting range and training fields, will continue to enjoy their facilities under the new arrangement. EWF club president Mike Halirewich has already been invited to join the Woodlawn Regional Park Authority's board of directors to ensure that the wildlife group's interests are represented at the table. Hoffort said Halirewich has already attended one meeting and added that "The EWF was there long before we ever came so we want their presence to remain. They're active and friends of the park."
Hoffort said the sites that are being groomed for the overnight campers and long-term users are spacious, each one measuring about 50 feet wide. He said, like the original Woodlawn, some spaces will be kept open for the casual and short term campers, while other sites will be made available for those who wish to camp at the new Woodlawn for an entire season.