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Camp Arroya peace accord emerges

An advisory group is being formed to work with the city of Mitchell once it retakes control of Camp Arroya at the end of the year, according to Mitchell Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Dusty Rodiek.

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The advisory group, which was discussed at a meeting of the Mitchell Park and Recreation Board on Tuesday night, will consist of members of the local nonprofit group that has leased Camp Arroya from the city for the past 25 years.

“We’re going to work with them,” Rodiek said in an interview Wednesday with The Daily Republic.

“They’re involved in the whole process as it moves forward, with any decisions that are made out there.”

This summer, city officials decided not to renew the city’s 25-year, dollar-a-year lease of Camp Arroya to Camp Arroya Inc. The lease is set to expire at the end of December.

The board, as well as other city officials, feel the camp is underutilized and would be better off under city control. Once the current lease expires, the camp will be turned over to the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, Rodiek said.

Sherry Stilley, president of the volunteer board of directors for Camp Arroya Inc., intends to be a member of the advisory group, along with other members of the nonprofit. Camp Arroya Inc. will discuss the matter in more detail at its board meeting later this month, Stilley said.

“I hope it will work,” Stilley said in an interview Wednesday with The Daily Republic. “Our preference would be to continue to lease the camp, but the city wants it for some reason.”

The 12-acre Camp Arroya, tucked away on the northern shore of Lake Mitchell, includes a main building, a picnic shelter, children’s play areas, an open grassy area near the shore and nature trails.

Camp Arroya Inc. rents out the facilities to youth organizations, such as scouting groups or church groups, but anyone is able to rent the camp.

With their lease set to expire at the end of the year, members of Camp Arroya Inc. have, at times, had a contentious relationship with city officials who would prefer the camp to be under city control.

Though not necessarily a sure thing at this point, the advisory group seems to be a plan both sides support, Rodiek said.

“We’re trying to work this through as amiably as possible,” Rodiek said. “If we can work this out together, that’s going to be the best for everyone.”

Stilley and other Camp Arroya Inc. members have expressed concerns about how the trees, vegetation and other natural aspects of Camp Arroya will be handled by the city.

“It’s the only natural, wooded retreat left on Lake Mitchell,” she said.

The city will “maintain the integrity of the site” and will honor reservations already scheduled for next summer, Rodiek said. Plans to improve the camp are also in the works.

From 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Camp Arroya, Camp Arroya Inc. plans to hold an event to honor anyone who has volunteered, used or donated to the camp, Stilley said. The event will include a meal and other camp-related activities, like horseshoes and volleyball.