As nonprofit groups and other nonstate entities step up to save California parks from the budget ax, some advocates are raising concerns over recreational facilities’ long-term financial needs and the potential for misuse when they are overseen by private hands, the San Francisco Chronicle writes.
Following the passage of a state law lowering hurdles for setting up public-private parks partnerships, nine of the 70 facilities California said it would close have been rescued by foundations, philanthropists, community organizations, and the federal government. Officials say the state is in talks with outside groups in connection with 27 other parks.
Jerry Emory, a spokesman for California State Parks Foundation, said his group is concerned “that Sacramento will see the philanthropic community stepping forward as a substitute for public funding” and eliminate money for parks altogether. Other activists say officials have not figured out how to prevent criminals or drug dealers from paying for the parks so they can grow marijuana or embezzle revenue.
Roy Steans, a state parks spokesman, said safeguards are in place to keep unscrupulous characters and nefarious activities out of park operations.
“Could anyone step up?” he said. “Sure, but we would consider them based upon what kind of an entity they are and whether or not they can provide proof they have the ability to operate the park with a funding stream and management infrastructure.”
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