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OUR VIEW: Changes a good idea at Camp Arroya

Camp Arroya is tucked so tightly into the trees on the northwest edge of Lake Mitchell that some people may not even know it exists. Maybe that's the point, since it is a place to go and enjoy the woods and the waters of our local lake.

But the 12-acre site could use some upgrades, and now that the lease is up, the city is considering what to do next.

For the past 25 years, the camp has been leased for $1 a year by Camp Arroya Inc., a nonprofit group that rents out the grounds to scouting groups, church groups, graduation parties and the like. The grounds include the main lodge, which has bathrooms and two kitchens and enough room to seat approximately 50 people. A former bunkhouse is used as an arts and crafts space.

A clause in the contract states that Camp Arroya Inc. must keep the premises "in a good state of repair and in a clean and sightly condition."

The nonprofit group says it's doing what it can, considering the usage. At least one member of the City Council, Marty Barington, feels more needs to be done.

Barington suggests a partnership between Camp Arroya Inc. and the city could better serve the aging camp site. He says the site is hundreds of thousands of dollars behind on updates, and that the city can't afford to take any more steps back.

We agree with Barington, and hope the city treads lightly when considering another lease. Camp Arroya Inc. evidently has put much effort into keeping the grounds maintained, but only so much can be expected from a nonprofit group.

Too, it would be best to avoid a long-term lease, such as the one that is just coming to an end.

Whatever happens, it's clear something must change to provide better maintenance and public access at Camp Arroya. A shorter contract and a closer partnership -- or maybe even a severing of ties and a transfer to city government control of the property -- might better serve the people of Mitchell, who are the real owners of the 12 acres.