I would like to explain why the situation at Lapeer County's water parks occurred over the last week, i.e. the forced closing of the parks. I understand and share people's frustration with the situation—funding challenges for government will continue to frustrate people as inevitable cuts come.
As County Parks Director I have the responsibility under the county commission's budget resolution to manage the Parks Department funds in the black. After conducting an in-depth revenue and expenditure review in late July it was clear based on this summer's current trends and past history that we would be short around $75,000 in fees, due to economic conditions and one of the coldest summers on record (outdoor water parks across the state have experienced similar shortages). Based on this information I made the decision to close the water parks during weekdays and keep them open on the weekends to cut expenditures. I did this to provide some level of service to you during the summer and still keep all our full-time positions funded at a reduced rate through the end of the year in the hope of keeping the parks open year round (we provide a haunted forest in the fall, and sledding in the winter).
The county commissioners, after reviewing information for the week, passed a motion to open the parks 7 days a week, and also passed a motion to offer a free water park day this Saturday, August 22 to encourage people who are unfamiliar with the parks to give them a try. The commissioners also set a special meeting to review the short term situation in the County Parks Department and present additional recommendations to the Commissioners meeting on August 20.
I encourage you to come out for the day on Saturday August 22 for free water park day, or any day this summer to enjoy the smell of a barbeque at the pavilion grills with a breeze blowing off Pero Lake, the clink of horseshoe pits (horseshoes available), a walk on the trails under a wooded canopy, or the squeal of a happy child exiting the water slide and ready to climb back up the stairs for another go. Feel free to call with questions or concerns at (810) 667-0304 or visit the web at LapeerCountyParks.org.
Thank you for your time and support during this challenging time.
Ken Elwert, Director Lapeer County Parks
August 19, 2009