Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts at Your Nearest State Park?…
…it may just be closer than you think – if the other states follow Washington’s lead, that is.
I was just reading an article in the Kitsap Sun about something that may affect all of us in the near future. Washington State Parks is considering a plan to allow private companies to operate in their parks.
As we all know, America’s National and State parks have had their funding cut throughout the years to the point where some states are entertaining the idea of bringing in private companies to build cottages, restaurants and even campsites in an effort to generate additional income.
The idea is that the private companies will build and run these facilities, then either pay rent or a percentage of profits and it would be a win/win situation for the parks and businesses.
If this plan works we might see all of the State and national parks doing it and maybe they won’t raise their fees. It would be great to have a nice restaurant within walking distance of your campsite.
Check out the article and let us know what you think!
Washington State Parks is considering a plan that would designate certain areas for the privately financed construction of vacation cottages, restaurants, campsites, boating facilities and other recreational amenities. These areas would operate under private management, with the state charging a lease or taking a share of the earnings, under what park officials are calling the Recreation Business Activity Candidate Sites plan.
The aim is to make parks more attractive while also boosting revenue for the cash-strapped parks system.
“Since 2007, our funding has been cut dramatically, and we’ve been asked (by state leaders) to act more like a business,” said Brian Hageman, the manager of Fort Flagler State Park and five other parks on the Olympic Peninsula.
The plan is part of a new direction that state parks has taken at the behest of the Legislature, which wants to see more of a private-sector approach to managing the parks. State parks is in the process of loosening rules for in-park advertising and have developed a new fee structure that charges higher rates for high-demand campsites. The busy upland area of Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend is now under the management of a nonprofit cultural group.
A business consultant hired by state parks recently identified 10 properties as ideal candidates for private development. Some of the properties lack full state park status or get relatively few visitors. Others, like Millersylvania State Park near Olympia and Fort Flagler near Port Townsend, are some of the state’s top parks.
Fort Flagler drew 940,000 visitors last year. The park might be an even bigger draw if it could accomodate the high demand for campsites and vacation rentals.
“During the summer season, we’re full almost every day of the week,” Hageman said.
Adding cabins would increase visitation during wetter, colder months.
“There’s definitely demand for adding some cabins,” he said.
Under the plan, Fort Flagler would open 100 of the park’s 784 acres to private development.
The designated site is a largely wooded area along the park’s south side.
“This site could be developed into a year-round recreational center providing public lodging (including) up to 100 heated cabins with plumbing …,” the plan states.
Source: Kitsap Sun
Feature Image Source: Adventure Awaits