Pier pressure

By TONY GIAMPETRUZZI  |  August 8, 2007

But, while Ahearn says that a typical family can get into seasonal (meaning all summer long) camping for about $30,000 and then an additional $3000 to $4000 a summer for a site, there are those who really need cash for the way they do it. Today’s RVs can run into the $400,000 range, and when they’re hauling a Jeep Wrangler behind it, well, let’s just say that the price of gas nearly rivals the initial investment — particularly if they’re driving in from, say, Arizona.

If they are, Powder Horn is an oasis, though, like Old Orchard, the campground is bending with the times.

“The industry today is definitely trending toward RVing. And, they really want more from their campgrounds. Everyone here has 50 amps (of electricity), water, sewer, cable TV, a full-blown grocery store, five pools, miniature golf, planned activities and, if there isn’t a WiFi receiver nearby, there will be soon,” says Ahearn. “Whether they’re going to Florida or coming to southern Maine, those are the types of things they want in a campground.”

Ahearn takes his business just as seriously as his customers. In fact, camping is in his blood. And, as he watches many of Old Orchard Beach’s other “resorts” being gobbled up for development, he reassures that his clientele will always have a place to go as long as he’s at the helm. That said, he doesn’t say that he’ll never sell, but that he has no intention of doing so in the short term ... or to cash out now while the land around him is being sold and developed into condos.

That gives Womack and LaPlante some solace — after all, they’ve been camping at Powder Horn since Ahearn was just a kid, and, they, like Ahearn, acknowledge that gradual changes have been afoot for years.

“The truth is, there are a lot of people here right now who would love an oceanside martini bar, and others that just couldn’t care less. On one side it’s good — for a few years (OOB) was getting a really bad rap for people coming in on their Harleys and gangs and it wasn’t so great for families. If it wasn’t for the seven miles of beach, the town would have never made it because it was pretty rough through the ’70s and ’80s,” says Ahearn.

“In that sense, it’s gotten back on track, but I think we’re all a little unsure on how the changes will affect all of us.”

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Tony Giampetruzzi: tony@giampetruzzi.com

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