The $6.3 million saved through proposed park closures would amount to a fraction of 1 percent of the state’s $8.2 billion budget gap.
Worse, on the same day these cuts were proposed, the state announced $7.7 million in taxpayer−funded grants to help private developers. Clearly these funds could save every state park, beach and historic site on the chopping block.
As someone who does pro bono legal work for the Friends of Oakland Lake, an area parks group, has been supported for public office by the Sierra Club and has served as a board member of the Bayside Historical Society, I believe we must do all we can to preserve our green spaces and historic places.
Cuts may backfire because our parks and historic spaces are significant draws for tourists, who bring in commerce and revenue for the private sector and state coffers. Why would we want to deter this economic activity?
The state Parks Office has had its budget slashed 40 percent over the last two years. These further cuts and closures are nothing short of draconian. Instead, there should be more public−private partnerships, New York City−style franchises and concessions and cultivating of parks foundations to help cover this gap.
I encourage the state Legislature to spur innovations and incentives before allowing these closures to proceed. Our parks, green spaces and historic places are too important to our environment, culture, quality of life and economy.
©2010 Community News Group
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