Dear Editor:

Over the past several years a plethora of folks have perused an initiative to enforce fees at Beltzville State Park in Carbon County. If you recall last year there was an online petition to Gov. Corbett that was signed by more than 500 folks in the county to apply entrance fees to the park. Each year there is an opinion letter written by Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS (March 20, 2013) that also supported this effort. In addition this recent opinion article Ron listed a number of logical reasons to apply an entrance fee to the park. And lastly the writer has also submitted an article to the TIMES NEWS also suggesting why a fee should be charged for entrance to the park. Last year the writer submitted letters to the legislators in Harrisburg again detailing the concerns that the local residents have on the funding spent to pay for a plethora of man hours spent cleaning diapers from the beach and the lake. Trash bins over flowing and the filth in the toilet facilities. It has been suggested that a fee imposed would help offset the state's budget shortfall.

I want to thank State Senator Argall for addressing this by forwarding my letter to the DCNR. On Sept. 25, 2012, Sen. Argall received a response from Mr. Joe Graci, legislative liaison, DCNR. He comments that he does not and will not support any effort to impose a fee for entrance to Beltzville State Park. According to Mr. Graci, the citizens of the state have expressed that their tax dollars help to support and fund the parks. To support that theory DCNR commissioned Penn State to conduct an economic impact analysis of the 38 million visitors who visited the entire parks system in 2010. The study showed that visitors to the park system generate more than $1 billion in economic activity in nearby communities. And support 13,000 jobs for the park system. In addition out of state visitors generated more than $274 million in sales for 2012.

I suggest that you don'd be misled by this data. Penn State uses a money generation model adopted by the National Park System. It's not an actual budget/cost profitability model. Check this out, according to this bogus model for Beltzville Park our local jewel both for locals and nonlocal visitors spend an estimated $11,919,000 on their trips to this park for the year 2010. WOW! You talk about fudging numbers. Non local visitors only use the park on the week end from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This is money spent as noted ON THEIR TRIPS TO THE PARK. Not money spent at the park or the local area. The only money spent at the park is for a boat rental or a few hot dogs purchased at the concession stand. Once again the Harrisburg think tank is using theoretical money to justify the profitability of the park system and not actual hard cash.

I would suspect that for Mr. Graci sitting in his office in Harrisburg at Google 50,000 feet, the park system especially Beltzville looks clean and green with no issues. However if you view the profitability of each of the park's the system, Beltzville State Park on a profit or loss model, by and unto itself is losing money. And is draining funds from the entire tax payer system. As Mr. Gower suggests the park is also taxing the surrounding police departments who have to help with traffic control, parking on adjacent roads and other emergencies. The only positive effect is the arrest by the police department for DUI convictions to visitors.

I would suggest to Mr. Graci, take a good look at where the rubber hits the road and visit Beltzville Lake on the Memorial Day three day weekend. Volunteers to clean the trash and diapers left in the park and road ways. Then tell us that this park is generating revenue for the system. And we don't need to charge an entrance fee to clean the plethora of filth and to control the crowds. Given the short sightedness of Mr. Graci, I strongly suggest that we continue to pressure our legislators with great vigor to change the current system of free use of Beltzville Park to a fee charged use. Or the state could charge a fee and give net profit to Lehighton School District to offset taxes.

From the pen

of K Treger,

Lehighton