$18M in budget will address deferred maintenance concerns in many state parks, commissioner says

05/30/2016 10:35 PM

FRANKFORT — With the unofficial start of summer here, Kentucky’s 49 state parks and historic sites will see their attendance figures spike during the vacation season.

But overall, the number of visitors at the parks has dropped in recent years due to deferred maintenance at many of the state-owned facilities.

With that fact in mind, Gov. Matt Bevin allocated $18 million in the latest biennial budget to address the maintenance issues.

Commissioner of Parks Donnie Holland looks at the $18 million as a business investment in the park system’s future.

“We’ve calculated that there will be a payback for that deferred maintenance money that we’re getting because it will bring customers back to the parks,” Holland said.

It’s estimated that state parks as a whole lose $40 million a year, but Holland says that they more than make up for that loss with the economic boon that they provide for surrounding communities.

“The economic impact numbers that go along with each park are fairly well calculated,” Holland said. “The economic impact of the parks is $889 million, and so a relatively good portion of that comes back to the state through taxes.”

Many states charge entrance fees for their government-owned parks to help generate revenue to operate the parks, but Holland says don’t look for that the happen in Kentucky.

“That’s not anything we’re debating with any seriousness right now,” he said.


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