Future uncertain for four now-closed state parks created by lawsuit

7 months 1 week 6 days ago Wednesday, November 08 2017 Nov 8, 2017 Wednesday, November 08, 2017 9:20:00 PM CST November 08, 2017 in News
By: Lauren Magarino, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

BRANSON - There is a business principle that says spending money makes money. 

Missouri made a purchase on that principle ten years ago when it bought land to build four state parks. 

The money spent on more than 9,300 acres came from a $56 million lawsuit. The state, led by then Attorney General Jay Nixon, sued the American Smelting and Refining Company, also known as ASARCO. 

A federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of the state. Half of the money had to be used to clean up environmental damages caused by the lead company. The other half had to be spent on building new state parks.  

Four were developed: Jay Nixon State Park, Ozark Mountain State Park, Bryant Creek State Park and Eleven Point State Park. They were all either quickly closed or never even opened.

John Robinson, a former state tourism director, said the parks across the state make a total of a billion dollars a year. 

"Tourism is the marketing arm and we can prove that. For every dollar we put on the air, three dollars comes back to the state coffers in tax revenues," Robinson said.

This brings back that business principle. State representative Lyle Rowland said the state does not have money to spend on the development of the four parks.  

"I don't see just spending a whole lot of money developing them, until we take care of what we already have," Rowland said. 

The Missouri park system has around 91 state parks. 

Governor Eric Greitens closed the state parks one by one between February and August.

The future of the idle parks has now become political. 

"I know there are a few who want to sell the parks to prove a point," Rowland said. 

He speaking of other state representatives, which he does not entirely agree with.  

"I'm not in favor selling them, but I'm not in favor of developing them either," Rowland said. 

Park lovers raised criticism the moment selling the parks was put on the table.

"It's just short sided to say that, to fill a one time budget problem, we're going to sell parcels of beautiful, pristine Ozark land," Robinson said. 

Terry Ganey, a volunteer and lobbyist for the Sierra Club said, "It doesn't seem they have that much of a belief in the value of nature."

Bill Bryan, who was the parks director until Greitens fired him a year ago, said, "It's really a shame that, instead of celebrating the centennial of our state park system, we're talking about getting rid of our newest parks."

Bryan also said if keeping the parks came down to a lawsuit, he would get involved.

"I am a lawyer," he said. 

Ken Midkiff, a member of the Missouri Park's Association and Sierra Club, said the group already wrote a lawsuit, but has not filed it.  

"There's no authority in state law to sell park land," he said. 

Greitens hired Ben Ellis as the new parks director. Ellis started working four months ago.

"We're not going to be driven by lawsuits. We're going to be driven by making solid, educational, knowledge-based decisions," he said. 

One decision Ellis made was to have boots on the ground. Surveyors are identifying boundaries and noting their safety. 

He said the state will host public meetings at all four state parks in December. 

When it boils down to selling or developing, he said, the state of Missouri is looking at all options. 

"It would be false to say we're leaning towards any one of those options," he said.  

Until then, those interested in the future of the four state parks will have to wait.  

Ellis said he hopes to have news by the first of 2018. 

The governor's office declined comment. 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Amid overall lower enrollment numbers, the UM Board of Curators will vote on the FY 2019 budget at... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, June 21 2018 Jun 21, 2018 Thursday, June 21, 2018 1:28:00 AM CDT June 21, 2018 in News
NEW YORK - Former Missouri basketball standout Michael Porter Jr. was selected by the Denver Nuggets at No. 14 in... More >>
2 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 9:29:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - After an armed robbery at Deco to Retro and Vintage Clothing on the Business Loop June 15,... More >>
2 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 8:52:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
COLE COUNTY - The Cole County Sheriff's Department and the MUSTANG Drug Task Force seized 14 pounds of marijuana, four... More >>
2 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 7:40:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Department could see some major changes in authority if a recommendation... More >>
2 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 7:16:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — An attorney suing former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his staffers says recently uncovered texts show... More >>
2 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 5:34:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- A study conducted by an MU professor shows sensitive medical information could be put in the wrong hands without... More >>
2 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 4:18:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - MU hosted a summit on Wednesday to discuss ideas about a new research building with the other UM... More >>
2 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 4:17:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
ELDON - Police in Eldon arrested a suspect Wednesday for an assault at a barber shop. Officers responded to... More >>
2 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 3:46:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Authorities said they were looking for a man near Vandiver Drive who was considered armed and dangerous. ... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 3:01:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - Callaway County emergency officials are getting some new digs. Crews will soon move into a new... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 2:55:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - People in mid-Missouri are doing whatever it takes to stay cool during the summer. That includes trash... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 2:04:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) - Four years after Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill co-sponsored legislation targeting tax havens such as the Cayman... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 1:49:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - A judge has turned down a Ferguson lawmaker's attempt to run for a seat in the... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 9:36:00 AM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Zoo has welcomed a baby giraffe. Zoo officials announced Tuesday that Beau was... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 7:18:00 AM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
FERGUSON (AP) — St. Louis County authorities say a 70-year-old Green Park woman died from heat-related issues when her home's... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 6:29:00 AM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
KIRKWOOD (AP) — A 71-year-old St. Louis man and his adult son are both charged with assault for allegedly beating... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 6:02:00 AM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Harry S. Truman VA Hospital is building a home to ease the burden of travel for veterans... More >>
3 days ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 3:00:00 AM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 81°
4pm 80°
5pm 80°
6pm 80°
7pm 80°