(Falls Of Rough, KY) A capacity crowd of concerned citizens and local officials from both Grayson and Breckinridge Counties gathered Tuesday night at Rough River Dam State Resort Park to hear from local and state level Parks personnel about current status and long range plan for the park.
During Park Manager Michael Ricks’ opening remarks to the group, he answered the question most were there to ask. “Is the park closing?” to which the answer was a firm and resounding “No”. Ricks, who will soon celebrate his 5th year on the job at Rough River overviewed $413,000 in improvements to the park in the last 5 years.
Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker outlined the challenges facing all 49 Kentucky State Parks and specifically those pertaining to Rough River. She cited a $7 Million decrease in annual revenue per year among all parks and ways they are looking to grow revenue and control costs through better management.
The largest number of questions for Walker pertained to the closure of the 9 hole golf course at the park. She reported that from 2009 to 2012, annual usage had dropped from 5,020 rounds per year to 3,991. Walker said it was a poor business model leading to losses of $61,000 in 2012 and totaling over $200,000 over a four year period. “That means that every person that played a round of golf, we could have paid them $17.93” Walker said.
Various solutions and repurposing of resources were offered, including a shift in strategy that includes the partial privatization of certain services from interested parties. Across the state, Walker said they were forming partnerships with private entities who want to do business in the park system such as Zip Line Tours, Kayak/Canoe Rental and others.
Moving forward, perhaps in some of the biggest news of the evening, plans were announced to relocate the State Park Marina to deeper waters and visible from the lodge. The move, which will cost $1.3 Million to complete would allow the marina to remain open year round and allow boaters to enjoy a longer lake season.
The announcement was made that the Friends Of Rough River group will renovate the beach area as well as add a courtesy dock at the end of the walking path from the lodge to the water’s edge.
Other plans are to increase the curb appeal of the park and introduce outdoor dining beginning in Spring 2014. You can hear the meeting in its entirety HERE.