By JOE MAHONEY
The Daily Star
---- — COOPERSTOWN — Orphaned by Otsego County, Copes Corners Park in the hamlet of Gilbertsville is about to get a new owner — the town of Butternuts.
Copes Corners, a county-owned campground on the banks of the Butternut Creek, had the misfortune of being flooded in torrential storms. County officials found that the costs of maintaining the park was more than the income derived from renting out camping sites and the three on-site pavilions designed to accommodate family gatherings.
After county officials discussed closing the park last year and putting it on the market, officials in the town of Butternuts, where the park is located, decided that what had become an albatross for Otsego County represented an opportunity for them.
A resolution authorizing the transfer of the title to the town is expected to be acted on by the county Board of Representatives at its monthly meeting Wednesday.
The price is right. It won’t cost the town anything, said Rep. Keith McCarty, R-Springfield, the chairman of the Public Works Committee.
Said Butternuts Town Supervisor Charles Eckelmann: “We just felt as a town that there is always room for open space for people to go and enjoy. And this is a perfect spot for it.”
Eckelmann said it is likely that the town would initially open Copes Corners as a day park this year, while it tries to upgrade the quality of the drinking water at the park. By next year, he said, officials hope to welcome campers back to the park.
Running it strictly as a day park will not increase the town’s insurance premiums, he said, while running it as a campground would add about $750 to the insurance bill.
The town Highway Department is expected to perform the mowing chores, at no new expense to the town, he added.
A parks and recreation committee is expected to be set up by the town to discuss potential ways to manage the park and to maximize its use, Eckelmann said.
“We’re going to do whatever we have to do to make it as enjoyable as possible for everybody,” he said.
County Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, who had opposed closing the park to the public, said of the saga leading to the expected title transfer to the town: “I’m glad it has a happy ending.”
McCarty said he expects the county board will agree to cede the park to the town without hesitation. Some county representatives have said they didn’t think the county should be in the business of running a campground competing with privately operated businesses.