ODOT’s bright lights darken a booming company

CONNEAUT, Ohio – Evergreen Lake Park Campgrounds in Conneaut is a place to get away from it all. It’s 150 acres of serene land, with nearly 300 campsites.

David Levesque and his wife bought the park nearly two decades ago, but he said he’s been camping at the park since he was a kid. He hopes to pass it on to his own son. He said the park and the campers who come are his family.

“Once you’re here for a little while, you get to know people and it’s family. Everyone knows everyone, you can walk to anyone’s campsite and they’ll talk to you.”

He is preparing for the opener of the campsite’s 62nd season on Friday, April 29. But Lévesque worries that this season will be different from the others.

“We book pretty much every weekend, but I think it will be completely different. I think we’re going to lose a lot of campers,” he said.

Why does he think he’s going to lose customers? There are now bright lights shining around the campsite.

“We’re right next to the I-90 and Route 7 interchange and they literally light up the entire campground. It’s very, very, very bright at night,” he said.

Late last fall, the Ohio Department of Transportation installed LED lights on the section of the freeway.

“There has been a lot of development in this area over the past few years, a new truck stop has been added recently and so because of all of this we decided to add lighting along this interchange there- low,” said Ray Marsch of ODOT.

Marsch said that before the lights were installed, it was very dark on the highway and posed a safety concern for motorists.

Lévesque said he too understood why lights were needed.

“The more this intersection gets built, with truck stops and restaurants, the more light you need,” he said.

He’s just concerned about how far the lights are shining on his campsite. He said he had already asked campers to voice their own concerns, even before the start of the camping season.

“These campers, right here, it’s almost as light at midnight as it is at noon. It’s so bright,” he said, pointing to the section of land near the interchange. “We had campers who threatened to leave. We had campers looking for other sites in the park, at the opposite end of the park, that we didn’t have available. This is going to be a problem. »

Marsch said ODOT understands his concerns and that ODOT has ordered shields for the lights that will force the light to shine in a more vertical direction.

“These shields have worked in the past where we’ve used them before,” he said. “We hope it will have the same effect, the same positive effect, to relieve the business owner and relieve the campground residents of the lighting.”

But he said ODOT has yet to receive those shields due to supply chain issues.

“If we had them today, we would go out and install them, but we’re really waiting for them to arrive so our contractor can come out and install them,” Marsch said.

He hopes they will arrive by the end of this month or in May, however, Levesque said time is running out.

“We open on Friday and we’re talking about potentially another month and I’d like them off until they’re protected because the campers will be leaving,” he said.

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