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The Daily



06-09-03: As the raindrops fall, so does park revenue

Grand Lake St. Marys

The Daily Standard
    Revenues generated from campsite rental at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park are down $25,000 since last June due to recent rainy and cold weather.
    But it is impossible to predict whether the drop in funds will impact operations at the park, said Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Craig Morton during Saturday's meeting of the nonprofit Lake Improvement Association.
    Morton said revenue generated by campsite rental goes back to Columbus and is placed in the general fund and distributed to all state parks.
    "Campground money is way, way down from last year due to the cool weather, Morton said. "This is the first time I've ever had people asking the first week in June for heat in their rooms."
    The campground has two cedar cabins that have heat and air conditioning.
    "In these budget cutting times, we'd rather see us bringing in good income," Morton said. "But the odds are that with the long winter we've had as soon as the summer weather comes we'll have excellent attendance."
    Ron Kus, business group manager for the Division of Parks and Recreation, said this morning that he would not know until the end of this month the full impact of the drop in camping revenue funds.
    "We don't have all the figures in for the month of May, especially Memorial Day weekend, but we do know that not as many of our campgrounds filled up as fast as they have in previous years," Kus said. "We don't have figures yet to see what kind of an impact this will have on our revenue flow this spring."
    Kus did say that the division is running ahead of last fiscal year for camping revenues, partly due to an increase in campsite fees that went into effect.
    Morton also reported that campsite rental fees would increase beginning today. The cost to rent one of the campground's 68 non electric sites will increase from $14 to $15 per site, while the cost to rent any of the campground's 142 electric sites will increase from $14 to $19 per site.
    No decision has been made by Ohio Parks and Recreation Chief Dan West on proposed increases in dock rental fees, Morton said.
    The increases are an attempt to raise more funds for the division in light of statewide budget cuts over the last three years that have impacted the Division of Parks and Recreation.
    Eleven channel identification signs intended to help boaters navigate the waters of Grand Lake St. Marys have all been erected reported LIA sign committee members Rick Nurrenbrock and Dave Meyer.
    The two-feet by 6-feet green signs with white reflective lettering have been installed at the state park campground, Kozy Marine, St. Marys East Bank Marina, Rustic Haven, Ohio Marine, It's It, Windy Point Marina, Cottonwood Park, Harmon's Landing, Big Chickasaw Creek and Little Chickasaw Creek.
    The LIA at its April meeting agreed to spend $3,400 to purchase 17 signs that would correspond with an equal number of state buoy-marked sites on the LIA's lake map. The state park also approved the sign locations. More signs may go up next year, depending on the response and interest from these first signs, Nurrenbrock said. Each sign also has affixed to it the LIA's logo and the international symbols for food and gas where they apply.
    Nurrenbrock said officials who own businesses at a few of the 17 locations did not want the signs installed because their locations are already prominently marked.
    The state park provided the sign posts and the LIA provided the signs and labor to erect them.
    Twelve picnic tables anchored to cement pads purchased by the LIA for $3,800 have also been installed around the lake, two at It's It and 10 at Windy Point, LIA President Bill Ringo reported. The state park paid for a small portion of the table costs.
    State park officials first approached the LIA several months ago about getting more picnic tables around the lake. Many of the existing tables put out by the state end up floating in the lake or are moved to different locations, state park officials had said. Anchoring them down to cement pads would help with vandalism and theft, LIA members agreed.
    A St. Marys Eagle Scout's project to build six wooden benches that convert into picnic tables along East Bank Road in Auglaize County has expanded due to extra help from LIA members.
    Following a presentation and request for funds by Eagle Scout Mike Garee, the LIA at its May meeting agreed to pay $137.72 for Garee to construct two of the six benches. After the meeting, four LIA members approached Garee individually and agreed to pay for four more of the six-foot-long benches.


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