New Portland campsite finally opens

PORTLAND – While typical ribbon cutting ceremonies include politicians and business professionals, Jerry Speelberg likes to do things ‘off the grid.’ To celebrate the ribbon cutting for Off The Grid campground on Woleben Road, Speelberg used horses to cut the ribbon. Sen. Catharine Young, County Executive Vince Horrigan and Dorothy Gruber, administrative assistant for Assemblyman Andy Goodell attended the ceremony.

Visitors wishing to stay at cabins on the 80-acre property can only access the structures by horse-drawn wagon. Two cabins have been fully constructed and a third is nearing completion. Speelberg has plans to construct more cabins – 10 in total – and become involved in the Wounded Warrior Project. Speelberg, a former staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, served in the military for more than 30 years.

The property on Woleben Road was purchased by Speelberg and his wife, Beverly a few years ago and it has been a long road to completion. Speelberg encountered obstacles during the permit process to build the cabins. The final step to officially open will be a certificate of occupancy, to be issued next week, according to Speelberg.

“It’s absolutely wonderful. I’m not anticipating any problems,” Speelberg said about officially opening.

During the construction process, Speelberg spent over $200,000. All the wood and materials, including the mattresses, are from local companies. All money that has gone into the project has also gone back into the local economy.

“This project is good for the county, good for the town and good for everyone,” Speelberg said.

Each cabin sleeps four and is accompanied by an outdoor swing and fire pit. Each cabin is run on battery-operated lights and has a composting restroom. Speelberg is expecting to start taking reservations in August for overnight guests. In order to make room for the cabins and the trails, Speelberg has “cleaned” trees out of the woods while still maintaining privacy and the natural surroundings.

“We don’t want to cut anything unless we really absolutely have to,” he said.

Speelberg plans to have the campgrounds open year-round and even hinted at a “Christmas in the Woods” event featuring sleigh rides. Horrigan agreed with Speelberg that the site is not like any other campgrounds in the area.

“I don’t see having a problem filling this place. It’s unique,” Speelberg said.

Reservations will be taken once the property has the certificate of occupancy. For more information on the property or reservations, visit www.offthegridexperience.com.

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