West Virginia Refuses to Make Public Cacapon State Park Bids

The state of West Virginia is refusing to release bids received for developing the proposed RV Camp and recreational facility at Cacapon State Park in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

The refusal comes despite the fact that the state’s request for proposals (RFP) explicitly states that “proposal submissions become public and are available for review immediately after opening.” 

At least two requests have been made to the state to see the bids.

One was made on March 2, 2023 by Morgan County resident Scott DuBoff to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). 

The Division’s Deputy Director Wendy Greene responded on March 6 denying DuBoff’s request saying that “the records requested are not public records subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act until there has been an award of the contract.” 

“After the issuance of an award, you may submit a request for the desired records and the Division will be happy to process that request,” Greene wrote.

DuBoff says that Greene is clearly wrong.

DuBoff wrote back to Greene saying that the RFP states in the clearest of terms that “proposal submissions become public and are available for review immediately after opening.”

Then on March 6, Morgan County USA sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the West Virginia Department of Commerce asking to see the handful of bids that were submitted.

Today, we received a letter from Graham Platz, the Department of Commerce’s general counsel.

“Because of the size and the scope of your FOIA request,” Platz wrote, “the Department’s search for and review of documents remains ongoing. The Department anticipates completing its review and responding to your request on or before March 24, 2023.”

Morgan County USA also asked Blue Water, the front runner in the race to develop the RV and recreational facilities at Cacapon, to make public their bid. 

“Our submission is the property of the State Park,” wrote Emily Demarco of Blue Water.  “Hopefully, when they award it, you will be able to get a copy of it.”

So, everybody appears to be on the same page here.

The state says in its RFP that the bids are public when submitted.

The bids are submitted.

And the bids are not made public.

What’s going on?

There is real left/right opposition to the 250 site RV camp and recreational facility.

The letters pages of the Morgan Messenger recently have featured letters in opposition, including from former Cacapon State Park superintendent Tom Ambrose who wrote that “parks were never intended to be major profit centers.”

A recent County Commission meeting was packed with citizens waiting to speak in opposition.

Clearly, the state does not want to release the details of the bids before they are finalized because if they are made public, the state fears that the already brewing opposition will grow.

So even though the law says the bids must be made public upon opening, the state isn’t going to make them public.

It’s now clear that no one in the state park system wants this massive RV camp and recreational development. 

Then why is it happening? 

“It’s coming from upstairs,” we are told.

Let’s do a quick five line tour of Civics 101.

We live in an upstairs/downstairs society.

Downstairs is you and me. 

What we ask for doesn’t matter. 

The law be damned.

Upstairs is calling the shots.

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