Swecker supports private funding for parks

By The Chronicle

Care to camp at McDonald’s Millersylvania Park? Would you like to take a swim at Ike Kinswa Wal-Mart Park?
Those could be your choices under a bill proposed by Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, who hopes private sponsorships could save the ailing state park system.

“There is a difference between scaled down services, which we’re going to have to do in these tight budget times, and the complete elimination of a service such as parks,” said Swecker, who serves on the Senate Parks, Fish and Wildlife Committee.

SB 5130 allows the state parks commission to contract with private sponsors if doing so will decrease costs, improve services or avoid park closures. The sponsorship should “augment but not replace the functions of current employees,” according to the bill’s language.

Private sponsors could assume responsibility for any aspect of site management, including routine building and grounds maintenance, security, operations, renovations, or even the development of new facilities.

The law would direct the state to maintain signs with the sponsor’s names at appropriate locations.

Local state parks have survived recent rounds of state budget cuts, including a plan last year that would have closed Ike Kinswa State Park.

Further cuts and revenue enhancements would create a parking fee at state parks and cut budgets for other parks around the state.


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