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City Could Turn to Franchisor to Run Troubled Park

March 23, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

With every step Colusa, Calif., officials take forward to make the Sacramento River a vital economic resource, they face a new hurdle to jump over, the Colusa County Sun Herald reported.

City officials have worked several years toward building a new boat ramp at the Sacramento River State Recreation Area off Main Street, only to face the newest threat that the park will likely close.

The state park system is one of many areas of government facing cuts under Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal, Colusa officials said.

The governor’s proposal includes $11 million in cuts to state parks this fiscal year, and $22 million a year in ongoing reductions.

Colusa City Manager Jan McClintock learned from state officials that the Colusa facility generated only $56,000 in revenue for the state last year, but cost approximately $154,000 to maintain.

The city does not share in the revenue or costs, but counts on sales tax generated by park and river users and fishermen who purchase goods from local stores, gas stations and restaurants, McClintock said.

“It’s very important to our financial health to keep the state park going,” said McClintock at a special meeting on Tuesday.

Although the official park closure list has not been released, the state expects to target underperforming parks across the state, including several in Tehama County.

But state officials are also considering allowing local governments to take over park operations, even temporarily, an idea presented by Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber.

It’s one of two options the city council discussed.

The second option would be to contract with a professional management firm or franchise such as Kampgrounds of America (KOA).

Councilwoman Kay Hosmer said she liked the idea of KOA, as the company extensively advertises its campgrounds on maps and websites, which the state does not do.

“We’re missing a lot of opportunity to grow,” she said.

If the city assumed operation of the park, it was assumed the cost would be far less for the Public Works Department to maintain than what it costs the state.

The city also has staff experienced with running a campground and golf course, McClintock said.

Pat Kittle, who operates the only sporting goods store in Colusa, said with the momentum the city and Colusa Landing has made in creating new boat launching facilities, it would be a shame to lose the state park.

“It’s a nice infrastructure for this area, not just for fisherman, but for boaters, jet skiers and people who use the river during the hot days,” Kittle said.

Although state officials had anticipated releasing the park closure list earlier this month, it has been delayed until a budget deal has been worked out.

State legislators made some headway on the budget this week, primarily cutting health care programs, but have not resolved the most contentious aspects of Brown’s proposal, including a special election to extend taxes another five years and eliminating local redevelopment agencies.

The City Council said it would take no official action until it knows for certain the state intends to close the park.

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