New owners of Association Island focusing on 2021 season

Association Island in Henderson Harbor was sold recently for $5.45 million. Watertown Daily Times

HENDERSON HARBOR — After nearly 20 years of owning and operating the Association Island KOA Campground located on its namesake island in Lake Ontario, the Shim family announced Monday that it has sold the resort.

In a post on the business’s Facebook page, Dr. John Shim, now-former chief executive officer of Association Island, said his parents, Dr. Nak K. and Sue Shim, have sold the recreational vehicle park to Sun Communities Inc.

“We are confident Sun Communities will take Association Island to new heights while preserving the history, the beauty, and the legacy of Association Island,” the younger Dr. Shim wrote.

Dr. Shim could not be reached for additional comment Monday night, nor could representatives from Sun Communities.

Terms of the sale were also not disclosed Monday night.

According to the company’s website, Sun Communities is a real estate investment trust that has been in the business of acquiring, operating, developing and expanding manufactured home and RV communities since 1975. The publicly traded company has a portfolio of over 400 properties, including more than 150 RV communities.

The 65-acre Association Island, which has an assessed value of $4.63 million, according to Jefferson County real property records, has a long history as a resort.

General Electric bought the island in 1906 and used it as a corporate resort until the 1950s. In 1960, the island became a camp operated by the state Young Mens’ Christian Association.

The nonprofit Association Island Recreational Corp. took it over in 1969, offering cultural and recreational opportunities, such as concerts, plays, swimming and picnicking.

During this period, the Island House served as the U.S. Sailing Center for the U.S. Olympic Yachting Selection Trials as athletes competed for the chance to participate in the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal.

The elder Dr. Shim has been associated with the island since 1981 when he and a group of doctors known as Association Island Development Corp. bought Association Island and neighboring Snowshoe Island from the Recreational Corp. with the intention of building townhouses. The two islands, west of Henderson Harbor, are connected to the mainland by 8-foot-wide causeways.

The plan for townhouses fell apart in the mid-1980s, and the group settled in 1991 on an idea for an RV park and marina instead. As community protests arose and the costs of challenging these mounted, the physicians balked at the plan. Only Dr. Shim chose to proceed, buying out his partners in 1995.

Reaction against the proposed RV park and marina was swift. A group of property owners known as the Henderson Taxpayers Association Inc., which formed in 1981 to fight a school tax increase, mobilized in protest of the plan.

Neighboring residents were concerned about traffic congestion on narrow Snowshoe Road, lower property values, noise and litter. Several lawsuits ensued, with Dr. Shim finally obtaining all the permissions needed to build the RV park and marina in 1999.

“Next time you see Doc and Sue Shim on the Island, it will be as a fellow guest,” their son wrote on Facebook. “As they are only 85 years old, they are planning their next adventure, but hope to make it on the island to visit with you all in the future.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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