To address the possibility of any future park service reductions or closures, the department should develop a detailed process for evaluating the criteria that it must consider in selecting parks for reduced services or park closures. To ensure transparency to the public and to demonstrate that it followed its process, the department should also document the details of its analyses that support its selection of parks for reduced services or closures.
Attached are guidelines for Park Closure Considerations which include the following consideration: If budget reductions necessitate changes to the continued operation of State Park Units, the Department will attempt to achieve required budget reductions by implementing efficiencies and increasing revenue collection, or reducing services at selected units of the State Park System. If, after considering all other options, a team would be created to objectively evaluate criteria for possible park closure. Members may include, but not be limited to, the Chief Deputy Director, Deputy Director of Park Operations, Northern Field Division Chief, Southern Field Division Chief, and the Deputy Director of Administrative Services. The Department will present its findings to the Parks and Recreation Commission at a public hearing. Information gathered at the hearing will be considered by the Department before any final decision regarding the proposed closure of a park unit.
After our report was released, state law was amended to require the department to perform actions similar to those specified in our recommendation. Therefore, based on the new statutory requirements and the department's response that it would present findings at a public hearing if park closures were proposed, we consider this recommendation resolved.
The Department has assembled a team to recommend and evaluate criteria to be considered if future park service reductions or closures should be necessary. The team will is documenting its efforts in the interest of transparency.
As we state in our recommendation, the department should develop a detailed process for evaluating the criteria that it must consider in selecting parks for reduced services or park closures. Because state law already outlines the criteria the department must consider in selecting parks for reducing services or closing parks, we are confused by the department's statement that its team will be recommending and evaluating criteria.
Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.