Friday, August 21, 2015

KY Signs Death Warrant Of Its Crown Jewel State Park System

For 50 years, Kentucky's State Resort Parks have been its Pride and Joy. More than bourbon distilleries, more than the Derby even, the biggest tourist draw to Kentucky has been its spectacular, publicly-owned and -operated State Resort Parks.
Better than any other state's - even California's - and better than virtually all National Parks, Kentucky's State Parks System has put every other park system to shame.
From Land Between the Lakes in far Western Kentucky to Pine Mountain and Jenny Wiley in the mountains of the East; from General Butler on the Ohio to Barren River on the Tennessee border, there's no place that can compete on the combination of Kentucky State Parks' natural beauty, southern hospitality and affordability. 
And not just every government park system; every private, corporate-owned park, too. No profit-taking motherfuckers could ever compete with Kentucky's parks. 
That's because they are entirely owned by the citizens of the Commonwealth, and operated by those citizens' public servants: state employees.
Until now. 
Kentucky would get its first two privately operated lodges at state parks if solicitations issued this week work out.

The state issued requests for private developers to make proposals on building a hotel or resort lodge with a restaurant at Burnside Island State Park in Pulaski County and at Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Bell County.

There already is a popular lodge atop Pine Mountain at the Bell County park. The proposed new hotel or lodge would be at Wasioto Winds Golf Course just off U.S. 25E at the bottom of the mountain, which is part of the park.

There are lodges at 17 of the state's 49 parks, not including Breaks Interstate Park, which straddles the Kentucky-Virginia line at Pike County and has a lodge.

Burnside Island and Pine Mountain are the only parks where the state is soliciting private proposals for lodges, said Gil Lawson, spokesman for the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

Officials in Burnside and Pineville said Thursday that they thought the proposed lodges would boost tourism and help the local economies.
NO! Privatization ruins services and escalates costs.  Always.
Under the proposals, developers would cover the cost to build and operate the lodges, and pay the state rent or a portion of revenues. It's seen as a way to enhance the parks without the state having to bear the cost.

The developer could get back a sizeable piece of the investment through a state tax incentive.
Translation: the developer will strip the park of every fucking dime in revenue, declare bankruptcy and skip the state, leaving the taxpayers with a piece-of-shit lodge and a mountain of debt.

Shame on you, Kentucky!  Shame on you, Tourism Cabinet! This is Matt Bevin-level destruction. Pull that RFP now before somebody takes you up on it.

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