Thursday, November 03, 2005

This is What I'm Talking About

Just came across this article from the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky.

The headline reads, "State parks improve under Host" with a secondary head of "System isn't profitable, but none in county is".

The article focuses on the departure of Kentucky Commerce Secretary Jim Host who conceded that his promise of making the Kentucky state parks turn a profit by 2007 won't be met.

"That was too rosy," said Host, a former sports marketing executive whose last day is Friday.

"What I didn't know when I got here was the unbelievably bad condition of the parks," he said. "I'm used to running my own business and turning things around in two weeks. Well, it doesn't work that way in government."

However, the financial news from state parks is hardly dire.

They aren't profitable — no state parks system in the country is — but because of higher prices, new fees, better advertising and upgraded facilities, the parks now bring in millions of additional dollars and support themselves better than they used to.

While only two of Kentucky's state parks turn a profit, that's two more than most. In Illinois, few sites could claim that, though the Illinois Artisans Shop at Rend Lake does operate in the black.

Illinois right now doesn't charge admission to its historic sites or state parks. It should, at least to a limited extent. Sites like the Old Slave House, which operated with an average ticket price of $4.50 when under private ownership, could pay for its day-to-day operation.

It's like I told the Daily Eygptian last week.

"The state needs to look at how we manage historic sites. It expects them to operate without admission fees," Musgrave said. "It's better to charge admission than to keep it free and keep it closed. That's almost criminal neglect, especially with counties down here hemorrhaging jobs."

No comments: