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State parks

Published March 20. 2013 05:03PM

Our state politicians seem to be looking everywhere for money.

• They're considering having a foreign management company take over the Pa. Lottery. Never mind that when most ran for office, they said they were going to bring corporations to the Keystone State.

The most recent proposal was not to have an out-of-state firm run the lottery, but a company from another country - England - operate it.

• There's a proposal to sell the liquor business.

What happens with the money they get from selling it? The answer is they'll spend it and the budget deficits will continue.

• There were efforts in the past to make Interstate 80 a toll road.

Yet, for whatever reason, the political leaders fail to target a budget item which should be examined.

Why are lawmakers so adamant about not imposing a fee for utilizing state parks for swimming and other recreational purposes? Why can't they impose a parking lot fee?

Using Beltzville State Park as an example, a lot of manhours are spent by park officials cleaning up the beaches and parking lots during the summer season.

Money is spent testing the water on a regular basis to make sure it is safe for the swimmers.

The park is also taxing on the surrounding police departments who have to help with traffic control, parking, complaints, and other emergencies.

Any holiday weekend at most state parks brings crowds, but Beltzville State Park gets ridiculously full thanks to its close proximity to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and other major highways.

The individuals who utilize the park would pay fees if they used municipal swimming pools. They pay fees for parking when they visit other recreational facilities.

As far as the visitors to Beltzville State Park helping the local economy, this appears to be an overblown assessment. Many of those visitors bring their own lunches. They drive to the parking lot, park, visit the beach, and go home. Most probably don't spend much money locally except at local gas stations.

Even with a parking fee, their assistance to the local economy would be unchanged.

Lawmakers looking for more money in the state coffers should definitely consider parking or entrance fees to state parks.

Such a fee wouldn't overcome the state's budget deficit, but it would provide a little financial assistance to at least one line item.


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