FIVE ALABAMA STATE PARKS TO CLOSE OCT. 15
By Mary-Margaret Schmidt, WVUA 23 Staff
The Alabama state parks division announced Wednesday that because of deep funding cuts to the parks system, five state parks are closing.
On Oct. 15, Bladon Springs, Paul Grist, Chickasaw, Florala and Roland Cooper State Parks will close. State legislators are working to resolve the budget problem.
Northport city officials said on Tuesday, they were prepared to take over Lake Lurleen, if the park landed on the closures list.
Lake Lurleen State Park is close to Tuscaloosa and many residents do not want the park to close. Park Manager Rosemary Burnette said she saw no reason why the park should be close because it is fully operational. The park sees 80,000 to 90,000 campers per year.
If Lake Lurleen closed, many parks department employees would lose their jobs. Northport City Administrator Scott Collins said that the employees are their main concern.
“We have a plan in place so the employees would be retained effectively overnight”, Collins said. “We can do that relatively quickly from the Northport stand point. Once we got them on board, we would immediately go into review of the park hours, operation and get our own budget in place and see what changes would be there.”
Residents believe they would lose a second home if the park closed. Fishers like Elosie Prewitt frequent the park and would be upset if it were to close. She said she feels a sense of security when she visits the park.
“The staff knows me and I will help to save the park”, Prewitt said.
Collins said he believes that Northport residents could help save the park along with the city.
“We have a short term and a long term plan”, Collins said. “The short term plan is to generate renewed interest in the park from the local community, and the long term would be more of a longer term stay guests such as campers, cabins and things of that nature.”
City officials are waiting to hear a final decision from the state about the closures.