Hot Springs, Arkansas, has a drug problem. Described as a “magnet for crime,” Shorecrest Lake Cottages is a 4-acre patch on a lake in Hot Springs. It sports more than 30 old, “dilapidated” cottages where locals dismay that drug addicts hang out, and at times, toss hypodermic needles onto neighboring property. It seems everyone agrees there’s a problem. But when new owners offered to tear down the cottages and upgrade the property, it turned out that locals would prefer drug addicts to RVers.
Property with an “atrocious reputation”
When Roxanne and Gilbert Garret bought the Shorecrest Lake Cottages property, they thought they were investing in an income-producing property. Little did they know. Testifying before the local Board of Directors, Gilbert Garret said, “What we didn’t know at that time is that the property had an atrocious reputation.” He added they later found law enforcement had been called about the place more than 90 times in the last two years. “The people who live there were not a good group. It’s the reputation that keeps these people coming back and back.”
What’s an honest-hearted landlord to do? The Garrets asked the Board to allow them to tear down the “cottages,” clean the property up, and turn it into an RV park. On May 2, the Board of Directors of Hot Springs opened the idea up to public testimony.
It didn’t take long for it to be clear that some locals would apparently prefer drug addicts to RVers. Three-plus hours of testimony soundly ruled out the idea. RV parks are crime magnets. RVs would run over the little ones who fish from the side of the road nearby. A nearby condo owner was adamant that the RVers would surely barge in and use the condo swimming pool and sauna. It wasn’t clear if they might come au-naturel, but he prophesied that if RVers were allowed, some would develop the persona of “Cousin Eddie,” apparently referencing Randy Quaid’s character in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” You can see the entire hearing on YouTube.
Not everyone shared such negative sentiments. The closest neighbor was strongly in favor of allowing the renewal project to go through. She’s the one who’s tired of finding drug paraphernalia in her yard. She’s also sad that her kids won’t allow her grandchildren to visit. Why? Because of the crummy element at Shorecrest Lake Cottages.
And the solitary “yes” voter on the Board of Directors made a valiant attempt to turn the tide. Director Erin Holliday said in her view, the Garret’s had done all in their power to meet what would be considered reasonable requirements. And as to the kiddies getting mowed down? “If for whatever reason, people, including children, are encouraged to stand adjacent to a highly-trafficked area, perhaps we need to look at something there to protect the pedestrians,” she said. “That is not the onus of this applicant. That’s perhaps a safety issue we need to look at.”
“Profitable just like it is”
The Garrets’ proposal for a new RV park was shot down on a vote of six-to-one. Interestingly, the directors’ stand ran completely in opposition to the recommendations of the city’s own planning commission and planning and development department, both of which had said the plan should be approved.
And how do the Garrets feel, now that the city—and its governmental leaders—have spoken? These evidently preferring drug addicts to RVers? “Shorecrest is very profitable just like it is,” Roxanne Garret told the Board of Directors. “The 31 structures may attract a bad element, however, that element pays their rent. This change is not being done to increase the property’s income. The only reason we started this was to address the city’s concern about the high crime rate on the property.”
I wonder if the reason the citizens preferred the druggies to strangers moving through their community is that 1/2 of the townspeople have a disowned son, daughter or neighbor living there now just beyond the pall. It’s shocking how many Uber wealthy have dumped their addicted children into parked cars in urban neighborhoods and leave little care packages to assuage their guilt on a regular basis. Seen it here in Seattle.
Great observation. Could be onto something with that.
I was at Hot Springs National Park a couple of years ago, had just settled down in the RV park when there was a big commotion outside, with Park Rangers arresting a carload of young men. They proceeded to tear the car apart, pulling things out of inside and trunk. There was another camper standing near me, and I asked what was going on. “Drug bust”, the guy said, this happens all the time here. “
Possible other factor: where I live the park wanted to expand on industrial property behind us. In fact the owner wanted to trade the property to the side of the park that is on a main highway for the property behind that really has no good access. The city said no. In fact the other cities around are against more Rv parks. They evidently get more tax revenue from homes and/or businesses than the money all the RVers are spending locally. Oh, once they started building the businesses in the industrial park area around us and let them build apartments across the street crime in the area has gone up with theft and vandalism.
Yah, I too have seen the negative effects of drug usage and dopey silly clowncils. Down with everything and bring in some protesters squatting and pooping on your lawn!
Wow! A whole trailer park of drug addicts?
At only 90 police visits in 2 years, they are pretty law abiding addicts.
Gotta wonder if there are other factors at play here. Sometimes decision makers (or a community) dislike the business owners (the cottages property in this story) for reasons, valid or invalid. Maybe politics at play–the owners didn’t support the board in some other cause. Another idea–some people only see the “bad” reports of RV’ing and RV parks–the homeless RVers camped on city streets on the west coast with the associated issues, and the stories of RV’er’s taking over public lands. Some areas don’t want the additional traffic (or big vehicle traffic) on their roads. Some areas don’t want outsiders visiting their area. We just never know what’s going through their heads. It would be fun to find out!
I’m guessing the board members haven’t been to nearby Catherine’s Landing to see the quality and caliber of RVers that frequent the area. Local businesses would make thousands a week, which that business community definitely needs.
Sadly, even when rational arguments are given at public meetings, most peoples minds are already made up, and there is no changing their minds. Even solid, well thought out proposals that enhance the community at large, are shot down. Some of it is the NIMBY (Not in my Backyard) people, but often it’s the fear of the unknown that keeps the status quo.
And that’s true in my humble opinion.
Who buys a property without looking at it and doing research? Would you buy a house without checking out the neighborhood? Real estate ads nowadays usually include the local police stats for the area! Sounds a little fishy to me.
Maybe they made too many assumptions about the property because they wanted to build an RV park in the first place? And who is to say that the RV park would not attract the new breed of vagrant RVers with the same issues? Surprise, surprise!
She might not have researched it but notice that she did not express regretting purchasing the property, nor did she say it wasn’t profitable. She didn’t say she always intended to convert it to an RV park. She is happy owning the property but after experience, wanted to improve it a bit.
Well, if the proposed “RV Park” was to become just another full-time residential “trailer court” as so many now are becoming, I doubt the result would be any different in that particular community.
This does upset RVers no doubt. However, the real problem lays with the presence of people who bring, use and sell these drugs. Rather than bashing the RVing proposal, they should have used the opportunity to focus on the problem at hand and seen this as a potential solution. A well kept RV park with limited stays is not a bastion for crime. Kudos to the landowners for trying.
Were there no RV’s in town? Did anyone try to educate these people on the average cost of camping equipment or talk to another campground owner and neighbors?
Dumb people make dumb decisions. I hope someone from this town reads these comments and see how uneducated and bias they are!
It’s Arkansas! Maybe the ones that voted it down are the ones that use it.
And what does that mean BOB? It’s Arkansas?
According to one study just completed this month that looked at 20 key metrics, ranging from arrest and overdose rates to opioid prescriptions and employee drug testing laws, Arkansas was ranked as the 7th state for highest drug use. New Mexico won top honors followed by West Virginia and Washington D.C.
Tennessee, Bob, was #11, so not too far behind!
The least use states (51 since D.C. is in total count)? Idaho at #47, then Minnesota, Florida, Utah, and least use at #51..Hawaii.
Thanks for providing that link Spike. Looked pretty comprehensive but failed to identify a discernable causation linkage. IMO, it is a more local situation being identified in the article versus a statewide issue. Houston is not Tyler. Atlanta is not Savanah. Hot Springs is not Little Rock.
Population densities should be taken into account in that type of study which references a search for connection of Red or Blue state leadership. Example. 95% of Oregon is a picturesque, low crime state. Portland is a high crime disease infested cesspool resembling an Orwellean dystopia.
Very interesting, and depressing, information, Spike. Thank you for linking that chart. Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com
I would be willing to guess that none of the board of directors live adjacent to the drug den. Hmmm. Or maybe they have a vested interest in seeing that the drugs continue to flourish?
Profitable they say? For whom? Profitable for the Directors? Either directly or indirectly involved in the supply of drugs to this community? In a 6-to-1 vote against RV’s and for continuing this drug infestation no less? What, these Directors personally see no money in their greedy pockets?
Wonder how many of the little kids fishing along side the road are approached by drug dealers to buy drug (or get free samples) so as to get them hooked on them. Stupid people make stupid decisions.
That’s one of the most ridiculous comments I’ve see here in ages. Congratulations!
Retired LEO with 23 years served, maybe you, Patriot, should open your eyes. Nothing ridiculous about Chris’ comment at all. We see this ploy on a frequent basis. Very young children given what appears to be “candy” which in fact was drugs. The front door to human trafficking starts like this, and believe me, it is VERY PREVALENT in our State. Not being argumentative, just stating facts.
I would like to see the actual statistics on this. Human trafficking generally targets already vulnerable populations. Not just any kid on the side of the road. The reality is based on FBI and CIA fact books, the US as a whole has never been safer than it is now. Homicide rates per capita are at historical lows. Violent crimes are at a per capita historical lows. Your perspective (not facts) is based on subjective experience based on the fact that LEOs are reactionary, you show up on everyone’s worst day, make outrageous assumptions based on the militarization of your profession, and propaganda that reinforces the idea that LEOs are victims. How many happy birthday parties did you get called to? Who is by default reaching for a fire arm when there are a whole list of de esculattory tools at your disposal. Why is there over policing in minority communities while white supremist Christian nationalist paramilitary organizations roam free, a majority having LEOs among their membership? Hmm…
The blue wall exists, and it protects some really corrupt individuals. Cops forget they are just a citizen with a gun, and a piece of tin that convinces them that they are above the law.
Thats my opinion, not just a fact.
Not being argumentive, just clarifying facts vs antidotes. (Opinon).
Well,… just so you know. Drug dealers do offer ‘samples’ in an effort to elicit new buyers. Those usually approached are early teens, and often by older teenagers.
How would you know that? Are you a drug dealer? Or did you start using by getting free ‘samples’ that got you strung out? Sorry Dennis and Chris, it doesn’t work like that.
Get real Matt…that is just the way it works. And no I am not a user, never even smoked pot. I spent 24 years in the military. Married to a LEO. Raised two sons that did have some friends that used drugs. They started by being given something.
Yes I agree, given something by ‘friends’, not by some dealer on a corner saying ‘here ya go kid, the first one is free heh-heh-heh’…If you’ve never done drugs how would you know how it works? And LEO’s are mostly on the outside, so they only get to see the devastation. But I lived in that world, grew up as a hippie or a ‘head’ as they called them in Cali (early 70’s), but it’s being immersed in it is what gets you addicted. And yeah it starts with weed. I saw the destruction, lost 3 very close friends dying from drugs and alcohol. Yep I AM real Vanessa, I lived it. You merely heard about it. You have to live it to understand it. But thankfully I was delivered many years ago only through the Grace of God and the Son.
MattD, using your logic, no non-athlete knows anything about professional sports; no male can know anything about giving birth; etc. Just because YOU did not start using by being given something from a stranger, does not mean it does not happen. Your experience is not the only way drug use begins. Don’t dismiss information shared that was garnered from various, experienced, sources. Many people that help the homeless have knowledge of many variations on how people became homeless. Just because they are not themselves homeless, does not mean they are not qualified to discuss causes and effects of homelessness. Same with starting to use drugs. One does not need to use to be informed of various ways of starting to use.
Duane, thanks for the comparisons, as watered down as they may be. And yes, there are always exeptions to the norm.
The number one gateway to heavy drug use is pharmaceutical companies, and the for profit medical system that allows kickbacks for peddling narcotics when aspirin would have worked just fine. Let’s not forget where we live, and who your wage slave masters are. LEOs are the tool of the wealthy to oppress the poor, and disenfranchised.
I’m a combat vet, disabled due to service, everyone wants to hand us pills. Especially narcotics.
Also logic dictates that handing out hard drugs to kids is not profitable. Where are they going to get the money to afford the habit?
Alcohol is way more lethal than pot, both in traffic fatalities, domestic violence (from LEOs to their spouces) and withdrawal symptoms. Benzos drive suicide rates. Psychedelics provide real relief and lasting improvements, which is why they were outlawed, (that and blatant racism from the conservatives, nothing has changed there). MDMA, psylisibin, LSD, DMT have all been shown in clinical settings to not be harmful, and to provide lasting benefits for treatment resistant depression, ptsd, cptsd, and several other trauma related experiences.
“My wife is an LEO” does not make you an LEO. Being career military flying a desk, doesn’t make you a combat vet. And absolutely none of it, makes you qualified on drug policy.
Enjoy your RVing, I’ll be on the road smoking pot for my pain, and throwing the opiates they always try to hook me on out the window. Blessings of your God(s) upon all of you, and may they open your eyes.
not for decades…
Me either. LOL. 👍🤣😅
Are you currently high? That comment made perfect sense to anyone sober.
Well Stated, Chris!
Made sense to me but then again, I’m not high or looking to get high.
Well, this takes all. It is shocking to read/hear how poorly this community views RVers.
As the new owner stated, it is highly profitable in its present setup, despite the crime.
So, sadly, those who wished for change will continue to live with the crime, the addicts and
their discarded needles. What a truly shocking statement of society and what a truly shocking
future for RVers if more communities echo similar sentiments.
Go up to my comment!
Come on, Bob. Rejection of proposed RV facilities is happening all over the U.S. RVTravel has been reporting on that for some time now. This not unique to any one state or its people.
My guess is “better the devil you know.” Most people in town aren’t next to the property so only see a potential negative impact to them via traffic, etc.
But, have no fear, I’m sure the RVIA will get an RV education program to this town right away because they support us…right??? 😉 Oh…right…they only care about selling us RVs…not actually using them.
There is times when one does not understand what the people on these town boards are thinking. None of them are really voting for the best of their towns.