State parks, resorts need major repairs

Sunday, July 13th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma parks need $88.2 million in repairs, but they don't stand much chance of getting funded amid the state's budget crunch.

A new report shows state parks, resorts and other tourism facilities need nearly 300 improvements.

The agency's top need in 2003 is the removal of various underground storage tanks from leased and owned state parks land.

Its next biggest need is replacement of equipment such as maintenance pickups, housekeeping vans, golf carts and garbage trucks.

Water or sewer systems also need attention in parks at Lake Texoma, Roman Nose, Robbers Cave, Beavers Bend and Lake Eufala, while cabins need renovations at every state park that has them.

Additionally, rooms at nearly all state resort lodges need refurbishing, swimming pools need to be renovated and hundreds of comfort stations need to be replaced.

Some repairs are so critical they can't be put off. The state Legislature earlier authorized $8 million in improvements to sewage lagoons at three state parks. Without functioning lagoons, all toilets and showers would have to be closed.

But money for most repairs is hard to come by, leading park and resort managers to stretch their resources and use volunteers.

At Boiling Springs State Park near Woodward, park employees and inmates used donated materials to improve one group camp.

At Robbers Cave near Wilburton, two park cabins at the top of a bluff have been renovated.

"Whenever we have some money, then we try to do as much as we can," said Ron Parks, assistant park manager.

"I know there's been some talk about the bad conditions we have got," he said. "But I think we really have done darn good with what we have had to work with."

Former Gov. George Nigh said the problem all along has been that lawmakers haven't been willing to maintain the system.

"We just simply can't meet the demands on our parks system with the normal appropriations it has," Nigh said. "We need some other source of revenue."