Jasper — A nudist resort has been planned near the historic town of White Springs on the banks of the Suwannee River in Columbia County beginning in April.
Suwannee Valley Campground, at 786 NW Stephen Foster Dr., is under new owners B.G. Parkes and Tom Gillenwater, according to White Springs Town Manager Robert Townsend. Parkes, since 2007, has also been the owner and director of Bare Buns Bikers, a nudist motorcycle group. Parkes and Gillenwater, according to Townsend, plan to use the campground to operate a nudist resort.
Suwannee Valley Campground is officially located in Columbia County, however, their website gives a White Springs postal address. Suwanneecampground.com already indicates that the new owners are Tom and B.G., and, as of right now, there is no mention of a nudist resort on the site.
The introduction of a nudist resort so close to White Springs, where family-friendly tourism has been promoted for years, has city officials concerned about possible adverse effects. Townsend is particularly concerned because he lives along the stretch of road leading into the campground.
The nature of the campground over the years, Townsend said, has been host to everything from Boy Scout troops to family reunions to big biker clubs. Fifty to 100 motorcycles, he said have gone by his house in a day, as well as big motor homes, so he is used to the noise, but that's not the issue.
“In its heyday the place did a lot of business,” said Townsend of the campground.
Townsend said White Springs has been promoting the campground on the White Springs website, in brochures, with Suwannee Valley Marketing Group and with Visit Florida. Townsend said that a nudist resort would impact White Springs.
“I don't know that as a public entity we can promote nudity,” he said. “It's going to be an issue for the council to discuss,” he added.