Residents voice concern over GA state parks going private - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Residents voice concern over GA state parks going private

CORDELE, GA (WALB) -

People who enjoy visiting some Georgia state parks are worried those visits will soon cost them more.

Georgia Veterans State Park in Cordele is one of five parks the state is privatizing.

A company called Coral Hospitality will begin managing the parks in an effort to save the state money, and the firm says it will not cost residents more either.

Starting July 1st Coral Hospitality will begin managing the parks. The state will still own the parks, but no longer run them. 

Coral Hospitality CEO Lee Weeks says they are only managing parks that have lodges. He says they have been running Lake Blackshear resort for more than five years.

When it comes to the state parks, "hopefully it would be all positive things that they would see," says Weeks. "As far as, will there be any major drastic changes of things they could do before that they can't now? I would say the answer to that would be no."
  
State officials say it's a financial necessity. Federal and state parks across the country are struggling to survive and Weeks says this may be a solution.

"I think Georgia is leading the way in trying to find ways to keep their parks open instead of closing them, which I think it's really good for their citizenry," notes Weeks.
 
He says he does not immediately know if prices will be impacted.

Park visitors hope prices don't change.

"I understand when they do different events because they're probably out-sourcing, bringing other people in to do a job and you have to get paid for a job," says resident Kenyetta Lester. "So I can understand the charge for stuff like that. But just to get in the park period, they don't need to charge."

Two staff members from the park are being transferred, and it will be up to employees if they want to stay and work for the new firm.
  
Other parks being privatized are George T. Bagby in Fort Gaines, Little Ocmulgee in Helena, Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, and Unicoi in Helen.
 

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