Officials said they are taking steps to ensure the organizers of an annual RV rally renew their lease and stay on for many more years at the regional airport in Florida’s Hernando County.
Hernando Today reported that County Commission Chairman Dave Russell met with the board of directors of the Southeast Area Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) Rally and has instructed staff to put together a report for the commission to discuss at an upcoming meeting.
Russell told Hernando Today some ideas have already been floated and, if they work out, would help convince the FMCA that Hernando County is the place to be.
Russell said the county will discuss extending the association’s lease through September, an extra six months.
“(That will) give us some breathing room to see what we can accomplish to accommodate our good friends,” Russell said.
If past rallies are any indication, these road warriors could pump in $10 million or more into the local economy.
Russell said the board will discuss the following remedies:
• Constructing a multipurpose building on airport property that allows the FMCA to save money on tents and provide a more expansive gathering place for meetings and other activities. The association used to lease a hangar from the now-defunct Brooksville Air Center to house their events. The county could explore ways for other groups, such as the Hernando County Cattlemen’s Association, to also use the building. Conrad Kleinpeter, an FMCA regional vice president, said it costs the association some $80,000 to erect tents for the annual rally.
• Moving the rally to the southwestern portion of the airport, which would not interfere with the planned expansion of aviation-related development at the current site. The FMCA would benefit because it would provide easier access for RV-goers.
• Discussing with airport tenants the possibility of leasing one of their hangars during the five days the rally is in town.
“We’re looking at every option that may be available to us in order to help them make a decision to stay here,” Russell said.
Russell stressed that the airport has limited flexibility on its lease charge, which is some $12,000 annually.
Sue Marino, an FMCA representative, called it premature to say there is anything in the works to move the rally to another site.
“Nothing has been determined yet,” she said.
Marino said the board of directors is talking with airport officials about the situation, including moving to Volusia County.
Hernando County Aviation Chairman Gary Schraut said the FMCA is a “major priority” and all involved are willing to work with the board to keep them here.
“They’ve been great tenants,” Schraut said. “They’re a great group of people. They can bring thousands of people here at one time.”
Schraut said if the FMCA directors are willing to commit to staying here, then the county can more seriously explore having a multipurpose building available to them.
“There are many opportunities,” Schraut said.