DUNMOR, KY (6/3/13) – Elaine N. Walker, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Parks, has told SurfKY News that improvements are on the way for Lake Malone State Park.
Last week, SurfKY News ran an in-depth story focusing on a letter sent by State Representatives Brent Yonts and Rep. Martha Jane King to Governor Steve Beshear. The letter cited numerous concerns about what the two representatives see as serious problems with maintenance of the park. Among the issues mentioned were the fact that the maintenance crew was cut from a staff of eleven in 2012 to just three this year, sewage seepage from the campground dump station, no sand on the beach, unusable, storm damaged hiking trails, and numerous other issues.
Commissioner Walker has stated that the Tourist Cabinet, the final decision maker on park maintenance, is working hard to deal with problems at the park, while dealing with a severely slashed budget.
"We have had to address an 8.4% budget reduction. In addition to the budget reduction, we have seen a cut in our facility maintenance fund." Walker noted.
Sewage leaking from camp ground dump stations into the lake has been a big concern to Yonts and King.
Walker noted, "We had problems with that last year, and we called in a contractor. We thought these problems had been dealt with, but as it turns out, it was more serious than we thought. We believe that the old pipes have crumbled. We are hoping that we can have this problem dealt with within the week."
"The biggest thing for us is when early on if they have a community cleanup day that gives us a tremendous amount of manpower to address the debris situation to take care of trail maintenance. That's why the Skills USA group from Russellville High School was such a tremendous help."
The large team of young people can be seen on YouTube under the title "Skills USA working at Lake Malone.” The teens painted, cleared brush, and performed a number of other tasks to help improve the appearance of the park.
Members of Friends of Lake Malone have mentioned the fact that many trees brought down by recent high winds have made many hiking trails impassable.
Walker addressed this issue as well, stating "We are working with finance to set up a standard procedure to get local contractors to remove trees after storms. We have very stringent state regulations though, so it takes us longer to get these things done. After a few days, rotting begins, so it's not worth it for the contractor or lumber company to deal with it."
Other problems stated in the letter to Beshear included the fact that, according to Rep. Yonts, he was promised by the state that the boat dock would be open for Memorial Day. In the letter to the governor Yonts and King state that the dock was not open for the long holiday.
"The dock is actually open." Walker told Surfky.com. "There was a sign up that said if you needed anything to contact the main office. We have just approved moving the office down to the store (next to the dock) so they will be more visible around the campground. We'll probably phase out the park's gas pump, however, because there is gas available at a store nearby."
Addressing the fact that there is now no sand on the beach in the lake's swimming area, Walker explained that "If you have limited resources, and you have a choose between sand on the beach or to clean up a sewage dump station then the funds have to go to the health and safety issues." Walker said.
"We are just making due with whatever we've got to try to hang on. The standard figure for having a maintenance fund is much higher than what we get now. We've gone from 8 million dollars in 2000 to 6 million dollars in 2012." Walker stressed "One thing we are looking for is a campground host. We have been very successful bringing in volunteers to take care of necessary chores.”
In return for their services, volunteers get free rent at the camp site.
“If anyone would like to be considered for this position you can go to parks.ky.gov. or call 502-564-8110, extension 153." Walker added.
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