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New bathhouses slated for campground

On the trail, any secluded spot in the trees will do.

In a campground, though, campers want a clean toilet when they respond to the call of nature. Decent showers are a plus, too.

Visitors to southern Hillsborough County's campgrounds soon will have the best of both worlds.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation plans to spend $773,000 building new restrooms and showers at its three campgrounds.

"They're old. They need to be modernized," said John Brill, spokesman for the parks department.

E.G. Simmons, Lithia Springs and Medard Park each will get two new bathhouses, Brill said. The old facilities will be razed.

Medard Park, which has 40 campsites, attracts 18,000 campers each year. Located in Turkey Creek, it's known for its freshwater fishing.

Lithia Springs, which has 40 campsites, draws 50,000 campers each year who come to swim in the freshwater springs and canoe on the Alafia River.

About 23,000 campers pass through E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin each year. It has 88 campsites, a beach and a boat launch with access to the Gulf of Mexico.

"Those are the only three campgrounds we have so it's important for us to keep the facilities as best as we can. People like to use them," Brill said. "They're not just local. People come from out of state."

The improvements will be made one park at a time. No schedule has been set for the construction, but work should begin in less than a month and should take about 10 months, Brill said.

Because the campgrounds at Lithia Springs and Medard have only two bathhouses, those sites will be closed during construction. E.G. Simmons will remain open and visitors will be able to use one of the three other facilities. Brill said a schedule for closings hasn't been set, so for the next few months, campers should call 975-2160 to verify that the campgrounds are open.

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