Haslam administration abandons state park privatization plans

Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau told a state legislative committee today that Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is abandoning plans to privatize operations at Tennessee state parks, reports the Times Free Press. He said TDEC’s focus will now be on using more than $100 million previously approved for state parks to begin addressing decades of ignored capital needs.

That includes tearing down and constructing a new inn at Fall Creeks Falls State Park, located on the Upper Cumberland Plateau, Martineau said.

Martineau’s department, with Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s support, had sought to privatize management of the park and construction of the new inn but it proved a political land mine. That and the lack of interest from private companies forced the administration to pull back the effort last spring.

But it was unclear until today what the path going forward would be… Martineau revealed the plan during a legislative hearing on a bill filed in this year’s General Assembly.

The bill, which stalled in the legislative session and shipped off for summer study, seeks to place new restrictions on further privatization by Haslam who has made expansion of outsourcing or privatization one of the hall marks of his administration. (Note: The bill is HB944/SB1047, sponsored by Rep. Tilman Goins of Morristown and Sen. Janice Bowling of Tullahoma, both Republicans.)

“What we have decided in consultation and approval from the governor’s office is what we want to focus on the rest of this administration is getting those construction projects up and running,” Martineau said.

“They will be moving forward whether they’re renovation or the Fall Creek Falls and Paris Landing rebuilds,” Martineau added.

3 Responses to Haslam administration abandons state park privatization plans

  • m robeson says:

    We love our state parks..but Paris need updated bedrooms and WiFi in rooms…workers nice food good and clean always…

  • Tim hobbs says:

    By closing falls creek is a bad idea.
    The hotel is a major source of jobs and tax for
    The local county’s
    The people would lose they ins. And benfits
    This is a well build building it would take
    More money to tear it down than it cost
    to build it which it took more than two years
    Paris landing is in great shape because of the
    way it was construction. Tell your rep and
    senators no to this. Parks needs other resources
    more camping , trails and cabins

  • Jimmie Turnrer says:

    Wish they could get as good a restaurant at Falls Creek Falls as they have in Cumberland Mountain State Park. The State needs to repair the collapsed part of the trail at Burgess Falls.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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