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02-07-06 LIA member: State parks could close or reduce services without new funding

By Nancy Allen

  The state's division of parks and recreation will need to come up with an alternate funding source in the next few years or parks will be closed and services cut.

  Bob Grimm told members of the private Lake Development Corporation on Monday he heard the financial prediction during an Ohio State Parks Stakeholder meeting he attended last week.

  "They can hold their own through 2006 and maybe into 2007, but unless they can get additional funds from other sources, they'll either have to start closing parks or greatly diminishing services in 2008 for sure," Grimm said.

  Last year the state's division of parks and recreation tried to institute a parking fee program to generate additional funds to replace state cuts to the division during the last few years. The park fee measure unraveled when top GOP lawmakers nixed it, including State Rep. Keith Faber, R-Celina. He was one who worked to get the fee eliminated while proposing other ways to generate funds. The measure was to have gone into effect in May of last year. Forty-four other parks in the U.S. already charge a user fee.

  Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Craig Morton said he does not see the parking fee measure being considered again anytime soon.`  "I think the parking fee issue was dropped last year, and that's where it still is," Morton said.

  Grimm said there also was some talk during the state parks stakeholder meeting of tapping state lottery funds to use for state parks.

  "In Oregon the residents voted in a 2-to-1 margin a referendum to get into the lottery pot and 15 percent went to state parks," Grimm said.

  Lake Development Corporation members also appointed officers for 2006, keeping the same ones as last year. They are President Jim Dabbelt, Vice President Frank Murray, Secretary Donna Grube and Treasurer Milt Miller.


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