After voicing his opposition to a proposal to privatize portions of state parks, state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, has received word from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that his concerns will be taken into consideration. In a letter sent yesterday to Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vineyard and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Fasano questioned whether the proposal had been fully vetted.
“Allowing a for-profit enterprise to run a high-impact campground on such a sensitive and important environmental treasure as Honeymoon Island is a major policy change that needs more review than it has been given,” wrote Fasano. “The Department’s Acquisition and Restoration Council’s split vote is hardly the authority needed to implement such a change both locally and statewide.”
Fasano received a written response to his letters last night, from the department Deputy Secretary of Land and Recreation Bob Ballard, who says that the proposal will not come without oversight.
“The approval on June 10, 2011, by the Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC) to proceed with an accelerated process to amend state park unit management plans to add family camping opportunities does not allow the Florida Park Service to do so without a thorough review,” writes Ballard. “This review includes conducting site assessments and analysis of each park identified to possibly have a campground, site visits and the opportunity for the public to provide input.”
According to Ballard’s letter, there are currently 98 separate concession agreements in 57 of Florida’s state parks, which have contributed “approximately 12 percent of $52.7 million in state park revenue last fiscal year.” Ballard says that, should the proposal move forward, all campsites would be “designed and built to Florida Park Service standards.”
Read the letter in its entirety: