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Where will 200 wind farm tower builders stay?

Staff writer

Where workers will stay when construction gets under way for a wind farm in the south part of the county is anyone’s guess.

Few RV campsites are available in the county.

Building permits are not yet granted for the Expedition Wind Farm project, but developer Blake Johnson said Expedition hopes to start tower construction in early spring.

Construction companies have not been hired yet, so the exact number of workers who will need a place to stay as they tackle the project is still unknown.

“I would anticipate in the neighborhood of 200 construction folks,” Johnson said.

Many turbine construction workers stay in RVs while working a project.

A limited number of available RV sites and motel rooms could cause workers to drive as far as Salina a place to stay.

Marion County Park and Lake has 48 RV campsites, but lake regulations set a two-week limit for camping in a given site. After that, the camper cannot return to that site for a week.

One area in the trailer park is designated for longer-term residents.

Out-of-county RVs pay $14 a night if they hook up to water and electricity service, or $7 a night if they don’t.

When Diamond Vista wind farm was being built in the northern part of the county, 14 RVs parked at a campground in Marion.

The city of Hillsboro has four RV campsites, but because of COVID restrictions, only two can be occupied right now.

Rolling Hills Mobile Home Court in the 300 block of W. 3rd St. in Hillsboro has only three or four spots available.

Marion resident Darryl Brewer developed six RV sites on property he owns on south Grant St. when Diamond Vista wind farm was being built.

The Cottonwood River is about 100 feet away from the grassy campground.

Brewer also rents truck parking spaces on the property.

Diamond Vista workers were staying as far away as Herington, Abilene, and Salina, he said.

“That’s why I put in six spots,” Brewer said.

Whether he will add more RV campsites depends, he said.

“When Diamond Vista went in, there wasn’t a rental property here in Marion available,” he said.

Several workers were staying in motels, he said.

“That’s a big problem where to put them,” Brewer said. “When these folks all hit, there’s not going to be a place in the area.”

The construction workers could be a boon to area restaurants willing to stay open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Brewer said.

“They’d do a good business,” he said.

Last modified Jan. 14, 2021

 

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