Over the past few years, we have all read about and experienced the budget crisis in Harrisburg. Every dollar from the state and local municipalities has been effected; even our local state park has suffered cut backs. At the same time, we have seen, especially this summer, a large influx of visitors to our park.
On July 4th weekend, Beltzville Park was closed to vehicles by 9:30 a.m. Comments have been made in the Times News about keeping the folks from New Jersey out, or charging a fee to gain entrance to the park. A suggestion to charge a fee was recently made in an editorial in this paper. I also made that suggestion in 2008, and received a direct reply from the director of DCNR, telling me that legislation was passed by the state park system not to charge fees for access to state parks.
My assumption is that the state legislators would have to vote to change that rule. As Charlie Chan's son Fat Chance would say, "never happen." Plus, we all know what happens when you "assume."
Instead, I have another suggestion to ponder: why not privatize Beltzville State Park. That way, the facility could act as its own profit center similar to (Mauch Chunk) lake in Jim Thorpe.
As the editor suggests, the fee could cover the folks managing the collection booths and boat loading ramps, and it would cover the clean up of the park and its surrounding roads. The efforts of the park environmentalists would also be covered, as would the benefit packages of park law enforcement officers.
If our legislators want to privatize the turnpike to save money, this effort should be a no brainer.