Four West Point Lake campgrounds going cashless

Published 9:44 pm Thursday, January 11, 2018

Four West Point Lake campgrounds will operate cashless in 2018.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District announced this week that only credit and debit cards will be accepted as payment at R. Shaefer Heard, Whitetail Ridge, Holiday and Amity Campgrounds.

Any other form of payment, including checks, will no longer be accepted.

According to David Barr, the supervisory park ranger over the recreation program, the army corps decided to switch to only credit and debit cards since that’s what most people use to make reservations.

“And so most people go onto the website there and make reservations for those sites and pay with credit card. Actually, the majority of sites that are rented are already reserved and so those transactions take place before campers even come to the park,” Barr said.

Barr said that simplifies refunds.

“Another reason we’re going that way is it helps us streamline the financial transaction process, so when people pay with a credit card, its right away and if there’s an issue, if a camper checks out early or if we need to issue a refund, its refunded right then when its paid with a credit card,” Barr said. “If someone pays by check or cash, it could take four to six weeks and sometimes even longer to get their money back depending on what time of the year it is, if it’s really busy. Plus, we’re just trying to create a safer environment in the gate house when you don’t have cash, that reduces the risk of them being robbed.”

Barr said the change should not affect most campers.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a huge burden on our campers who come out because, like I said, most people make reservations before they come, and they have to pay with credit card over the phone with the reservation service anyhow,” he said. “It’ll just be those who show up and want to find a site, but most of those people usually have a credit card or a debit card. And these days you can go to just about any convenience store and convert your cash by a money card and just convert that to a money card and pay out that way.”

The army corps has seen an increase in campers every year, Barr said.

“When someone comes to the campground, they have to check-in and if they’ve stayed with us before, they’re already in the system, but if not, the park attendant will have to get their name and address and enter that information in,” he said. “They’ve reported over the last two years that they’ve had to enter a lot of new campers in, so that means we’re getting a lot of new campers coming here. I think people are realizing that camping is a very affordable way to recreate and get away from it all.”