NARROWSBURG, NY — The National Park Service (NPS) has determined that Camp FIMFO, a $40-plus million renovation to the Kittatinny campground, has elements that fundamentally conflict with the …
NARROWSBURG, NY — The National Park Service (NPS) has determined that Camp FIMFO, a $40-plus million renovation to the Kittatinny campground, has elements that fundamentally conflict with the guidelines that manage the river corridor.
It’s the starkest challenge yet to the project, and its a decision without precedent in the Upper Delaware River (UDR).
Northgate Resorts, a national operator of campgrounds and resorts, plans to turn Kittatinny Canoes in Barryville into Camp FIMFO, the third in a chain of FIMFO family resorts. The plan would replace 146 tents with permanently installed RVs and build out amenities, including a water play area with a swimming pool.
The project has to meet the requirements of the River Management Plan (RMP), a document drafted in collaboration between local and federal governments to protect the Upper Delaware. The Upper Delaware Council (UDC), a collaboration between the towns and townships along the UDR, reviews the project first and makes a recommendation to the NPS; the NPS then makes its own determination.
The UDC approved the project in a 6-4 vote, with one abstention, on September 1, 2022. It recommended to the NPS that the project did substantially conform with the RMP.
The NPS announced its own determination in a letter sent to the UDC on May 25.
“NPS has conducted a preliminary substantial conformance review based on the information received to date,” reads the letter in part. “The review revealed elements of the proposal that fundamentally conflict with the LWUG” [Land and Water Use Guidelines, a subsection of the RMP].
The NPS did not explain in its letter what elements of the project it found objectionable.
The letter requested the UDC set up a meeting to discuss the project between NPS, the UDC, the applicant and the Town of Highland.
“To drop it into an email felt not respectful of everything that’s gone into this project so far, and I anticipate we’re going to get a lot of questions,” NPS Superintendent Lindsey Kurnath told the UDC at a June 1 meeting of the council. “So the intent of asking for a meeting is to brief the group.”
The UDC expressed concern at the suggestion, and passed a resolution to discuss the matter with the National Park Service at a special meeting of the council’s project advisory committee. That meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13.
Kurnath emphasized that it was not solely her decision how the determination got announced. She said she would take the UDC’s recommendation back to her superiors.
Members of the UDC expressed concern as well about the status of the project, asking how the NPS and the UDC had come to different determinations.
After the UDC made its determination in September, the NPS requested additional information about the project to determine whether to approve it. The members of the UDC requested any additional information that had been shared with the NPS and not the UDC.
There wasn’t any, confirmed Kerry Engelhardt, resources and land use specialist with the UDC. “We have seen the changes that have been made since then.” The UDC had discussed the project again at a project review committee after the additional information came in, and had agreed not to revisit its determination.
Town of Highland representative Andy Boyer spoke in favor of the NPS’ request for a meeting. It was the UDC’s role to broker between the towns and the NPS, and arranging such a meeting would be a perfect resolution to the issue.
“I don’t think that depth and extent of the FIMFO project was fully appreciated by the UDC,” Boyer said later on. “It’s little wonder that we’re here today.”
The UDC and the NPS representatives present agreed that it was a decision without precedent.
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