(KIRKSVILLE) - The construction of I-69 through southwestern Monroe County may threaten the peace and tranquility of a nudist camp that has quietly existed off Rockport Road for more than 60 years.
Laura Lane, of the Herald Times reports, Jawn Bauer, a Bloomington lawyer who represents Fern Hills Club, a 75-acre private family nudist resort established near Kirksville in 1947 says motorist might drive by and see some nudists.
The camp has nearly 200 members who spend time there in campers, recreational vehicles, tents and small homes built on the wooded grounds. Many others pay to stay for a day or two. Hundreds are expected for this week's annual Rock Naked event, featuring the house band, the Nudie Blues.
There's a 52-foot round swimming pool, a volleyball court, a four-room motel, a restaurant and a clubhouse.
And coming soon: an interstate highway that will abut Fern Hills' woods.
The camp is family owned and operated by Carol Ripple and two of her sisters; all three have other full-time jobs that require wearing clothes. When they realized I-69 would be build adjacent to their grounds, they worried about losing the solitude Fern Hills offers members and guests.
Ripple, who is in her 50s, spent her childhood summers and holidays on the property. She grew up as a nudist and says the grounds are peaceful and a place for people to leave their troubles and their clothing behind when they enter the gates.
Indiana Department of Transportation spokeswoman Cher Elliott said the state has been working with the nudist camp's owners to mitigate the effects of the highway.
Elliott says she doesn't want the nudist to have concerns or anxieties about the project.
Even though the central part of the nudist camp is not near the highway right of way, club members worry about the intrusion of interstate noise and curious gawkers.
Fern Hills members had hoped INDOT would agree to erect a 20-foot-high concrete sound barrier along the property's edge at the highway right-of-way line. But Elliott explained that federal standards must be met for such a sound wall, and the Fern Hills site did not meet the criteria for one to be built.
Elliott said the highway will be at least a quarter of a mile from the nudist camp. But it will be elevated, and a study under way now will determine if INDOT will consider what is called "visual screening," which involves planting trees and other vegetation to block public view. But Elliott says that may not be approved. She says someone traveling 70 to 80 miles per hours will not be able to identify from the highway that there is a nudist camp there.
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