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Campers react to Lake Lawtonka, Ellsworth fee increases

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Some Lake Lawtonka regulars say they’re going to find different lakes to spend time at this summer after Lawton City Council approved higher campground rates at Tuesday’s meeting.

Starting July 8th, it’ll cost $25 for overnight camping. That’s up $5 and $10 per day for day use per vehicle, which is an increase of $7.

Frequent lake-goer Derick Tracy said Lawtonka is special to him because he’s been going every summer since elementary school, but he feels that the City doesn’t take care of it the way they should.

“It’s a sad state of affairs to see the City keep raising fees for monetary gain and them not doing anything with the lake to keep it modern, up-to-date and clean and safe for the people that want to come out and enjoy it,” he said.

He wouldn’t be opposed to it if he could see where those fees are going.

“You really have to come out and clean up your campsite,” he said. “There are usually beer cans or trash spread around. Sometimes you even have to bring a mower and a weed eater just so your family doesn’t get stickers and they can enjoy the scenery here because the weed is so tall.”

City of Lawton Director of Parks and Recreation Jeff Temple said it was necessary in order to keep up with the cost of maintenance, improving the parks and competing with other state and county parks.

According to Temple, people will see improvements to the lake, but it will be a slow process.

He said while they haven’t been enforcing park entrance fees for years, they’re planning to start in the fall.

“For the time being, we will start with the things we can fix,” he said. “Of course, a lot of new signage and that kind of stuff is going in, the trash pick-up, all that kind of stuff. The basic things that we can do. Just the basic maintenance things are the big right now, but then at the same time we’re developing a longer term plan.”

Mike Cowing owns a store near Lake Lawtonka.

He’s concerned that this decision could lead to a decline in business, something he said he’s already experienced over the the last three years as the lake quality has gone down.

“I feel it’s terrible,” he said. “The rules already are terrible. It affects the store. It affects basically everything.”

Cowing said he’d like to see the city add amenities to the Robinson’s Landing campgrounds in exchange for imposing higher fees.

He said the grass on the fishing area near his store is about two feet high.

“A lot of these other lakes that fees are more, well there’s also things to do,” he said. “Maybe they have a putt-putt, they have better fishing areas. We have one swimming area. There’s nowhere in Robinson’s Landing to fish. Our campgrounds over here is more family, it’s more kids. We have a park, but there’s nowhere for them to swim. They’re not allowed to swim or they’ll get ticketed.”

The increase doesn’t apply to people who have purchased permanent spaces.

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