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Big Chief sells for $2.8M; resort and county at odds over $5 boat ramp fee

Big Chief RV Resort boat ramp

A $5 launch fee for the boat ramp at Big Chief RV Resort on Lake Buchanan in Burnet recently became a point of contention between the Burnet County Commissioners Court and then-owner Alan Warren, who sold the property Sept. 14. Burnet County owns the boat ramp and reserves the right to approve all fees. Commissioners never approved the charge, they told Warren. Staff photo by David Bean

Big Chief RV Resort on Lake Buchanan has a new owner but also a bit of a problem with the Burnet County Commissioners Court. The exchange of property between Alan Warren and new owner Danny Mulcahy of Dacia Resort Group closed on Sept. 14, just a few hours after commissioners reassigned a 60-year boat ramp lease to the new owner — with a caveat. 

“Any new fees (for the boat ramp) have to be approved by this court,” County Judge James Oakley said. “We’ll assign the lease, but the new owners need to know there’s conditions attached.” 

The issue is a $5 fee for launching a boat, along with a $10 fee for parking vehicles and trailers. Warren pointed out that the parking lot belongs to the resort, not the county. 

Precinct 1 Commissioner Jim Luther countered that the county leases the ramp to Big Chief for $1 a year. The point of the lease is to make the lake accessible to the public, Oakley added.

“We need to make sure, in the bigger picture, that people have good public access to Lake Buchanan,” Oakley said. “Part of that access is that they have a place to park their vehicles.” 

“It should come through the Commissioners Court,” Luther added. “We want to respect the original intent of this lease agreement.” 

Warren admitted he has been charging the fee for eight years without permission from the county. He also said if commissioners did not approve the $5 fee, he would charge $15 for parking and let people launch their boats for free. Parking is limited at the resort, which can hold 22 boats and trailers and has 72 RV hookups.

“We are not comfortable with this,” Oakley replied. “We will have to take it up with the new person. I want the new person to know Burnet commissioners have purview over the fee schedule.” 

Both sides used the word “reasonable” to describe their positions. 

“What’s reasonable to you may not be to me,” Warren said.

While Warren left frustrated, he also left with a new lease good through Nov. 1, 2064. He was able to close the $2.8 million deal that same afternoon. Warren has not returned several calls and emails for comment on this story.

DailyTrib.com was also unable to reach the new owner by deadline. Dacia Resort Group owns properties in Corpus Christi, Florida, Oklahoma, and Oregon.

“I’m going to let the new folks get in place and then visit with them and make sure we are all on the same page and know what the expectations are,” Oakley told DailyTrib.com on Thursday, Sept. 28. “Big Chief is a huge amenity to our area, especially as Lake Buchanan continues to increase in popularity.”

suzanne@thepicayune.com

1 thought on “Big Chief sells for $2.8M; resort and county at odds over $5 boat ramp fee

  1. The article about Big Chief RV Resort is very interesting because we used to Manage it a few years ago. There has been a Boat Ramp Fee there at the resort since before 2008 when we started working there for the prior owners (not the owner who just sold it). The property is a privately owned camping resort, with emphasis on “privately”. It’s there to make money! Prior to owner we worked for it was a scrubby bit of land that homeless and druggies used and many locals told us that controlling who uses the lake edge through that stretch of land makes it a lot safer now. You cannot expect a private land owner to let folks use his considerably long, privately maintained driveway and parking area for free, taking away space that his paying guests could wish to use. If I was wealthy enough to own a boat and the truck pulling it I doubt I’d worry about a parking and boat ramp fee.

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