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

1 year 10 months 1 week 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- Missouri recorded its first vaping related death Thursday, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. ... More >>
1 hour ago Sunday, September 22 2019 Sep 22, 2019 Sunday, September 22, 2019 4:02:00 PM CDT September 22, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Police are investigating two homicides after a shots fired call at the 2100 block of McKee Street... More >>
5 hours ago Sunday, September 22 2019 Sep 22, 2019 Sunday, September 22, 2019 11:49:00 AM CDT September 22, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department tweeted Saturday evening that due to weather, the 42nd annual Mid-Missouri Heritage... More >>
22 hours ago Saturday, September 21 2019 Sep 21, 2019 Saturday, September 21, 2019 7:07:00 PM CDT September 21, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY — Rain didn't stop family, friends and members of the Central Missouri chapter of Parents of Murdered Children... More >>
22 hours ago Saturday, September 21 2019 Sep 21, 2019 Saturday, September 21, 2019 6:52:00 PM CDT September 21, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — The University of Missouri Police Department sent out a crime notification to students about a burglary Friday night.... More >>
23 hours ago Saturday, September 21 2019 Sep 21, 2019 Saturday, September 21, 2019 6:17:00 PM CDT September 21, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A mysterious substance caused dangerously slick road conditions on the entrance ramp to Highway 63 from Paris Road... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 21 2019 Sep 21, 2019 Saturday, September 21, 2019 3:39:00 PM CDT September 21, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — Columbia College volleyball player Shelby Meyer died early Saturday morning in an off-campus accident. Meyer, 21, was... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 21 2019 Sep 21, 2019 Saturday, September 21, 2019 3:27:00 PM CDT September 21, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri officials are reminding drivers about the importance of car seats during National Child Passenger Safety Week,... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 21 2019 Sep 21, 2019 Saturday, September 21, 2019 2:00:00 PM CDT September 21, 2019 in News
MILLER COUNTY - Deputies arrested seven people in connection to a drug bust on Thursday, according to a news release.... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 21 2019 Sep 21, 2019 Saturday, September 21, 2019 1:52:00 PM CDT September 21, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Police are investigating a report of shots fired on McBaine Avenue near Sexton Road late Friday night. ... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, September 21 2019 Sep 21, 2019 Saturday, September 21, 2019 2:43:00 AM CDT September 21, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Police announced Friday officers made an arrest in the homicide of E'quan Spain. Michael L. Anderson... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 20 2019 Sep 20, 2019 Friday, September 20, 2019 10:46:00 PM CDT September 20, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — A crash involving three cars shut down a section of Providence Road Friday night. Columbia Urgent Care... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 20 2019 Sep 20, 2019 Friday, September 20, 2019 9:34:00 PM CDT September 20, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Below are scores from football games around mid-Missouri. Final scores are in bold. ... More >>
1 day ago Friday, September 20 2019 Sep 20, 2019 Friday, September 20, 2019 6:09:00 PM CDT September 20, 2019 in Friday Night Fever
COLUMBIA - The NCAA expected to hit the University of Kansas basketball program with multiple violations allegations. "After a... More >>
2 days ago Friday, September 20 2019 Sep 20, 2019 Friday, September 20, 2019 4:10:00 PM CDT September 20, 2019 in Sports
COLUMBIA - Football fans at Battle High School on Friday experienced Columbia Public Schools' new policy preventing kids from bringing... More >>
2 days ago Friday, September 20 2019 Sep 20, 2019 Friday, September 20, 2019 3:40:00 PM CDT September 20, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - MU students will pack Memorial Stadium to cheer on the Tigers during Saturday's SEC opener against South Carolina,... More >>
2 days ago Friday, September 20 2019 Sep 20, 2019 Friday, September 20, 2019 3:38:00 PM CDT September 20, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Public School District is replacing all of its trash cans with a three-tier waste system in all... More >>
2 days ago Friday, September 20 2019 Sep 20, 2019 Friday, September 20, 2019 1:20:00 PM CDT September 20, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A Missouri woman and her late husband, who was killed by the suspect in four... More >>
2 days ago Friday, September 20 2019 Sep 20, 2019 Friday, September 20, 2019 1:11:00 PM CDT September 20, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 73°
6pm 73°
7pm 72°
8pm 73°
9pm 71°