City, county eye future of State Park
By LPR Staff
While state lawmakers continue to grapple with massive budget shortfalls and area residents gather to plead for options, the future of the Lockhart State Park continues to hang in the balance.
Reports surfaced last week that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which oversees all state parks in Texas, was among t
he state agencies being asked by the legislature to make deep spending cuts. As a result of that request, TPWD began to eye options for several parks in Central Texas – among them, the Lockhart State Park. Rather than opting to close parks altogether and reduce the state’s inventory, the department chose to approach local governmental bodies to discuss the possibility of relinquishing those parks to local leadership.
Lockhart State Park, the home of the only state-operated golf course in the TPWD system, was among those slated for transfer.
Lockhart City Manager Vance Rodgers said on Tuesday evening that he, along with Caldwell County Judge Tom Bonn, Commissioner John Cyrier and Lockhart Mayor Ray Sanders, had met with TPWD officials to consider the future of the park.
The key purpose of the meeting, Rodgers said in an earlier report, was to discuss the cost of operating the park, to allow the City of Lockhart and Caldwell County to have an accurate picture as they move forward in considering whether they intended to take over operations. No official decisions were made during the meeting, nor are any expected in the immediate future.
The Lockhart State Park operates annually at nearly a $325,000 deficit, according to information Rodgers distributed to the Lockhart City Council and the media on Tuesday. Those funding gaps include not only the expense of maintaining and operating the golf course, but also the State Park Pool, which costs nearly $50,000 per year, but generates only around $17,000 in revenue.
Brent Leisure and Scott Boruff, both representatives of TWPD, said during the meeting that such losses were not uncommon, and suggested that no state park in Texas breaks even “when capital expenditures are taken into consideration.”
Although neither the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court nor the Lockhart City Council has officially discussed the possibility of stepping in to operate the state park, both Bonn and Sanders told the assemblage on Tuesday they did not believe that local budgets could support a parks takeover.
Meanwhile, grassroots efforts have begun within the community, both in the form of public meetings and online “gatherings” to save the state park, and keep it within the state’s control.
Future discussions about the Lockhart State Park are expected to include consideration of decreasing expenses, as well as increasing fees for the park’s amenities.