Earlier this year the California State Parks Service looked towards closing 70 of the 279 State Parks, including the Turlock Lake State Recreation Area, due to the State deficit and ever-increasing budget cuts. At Tuesday’s Turlock Irrigation District (TID) Board of Directors Meeting, however, the directors were informed that the State had chosen a concessionaire to operate the park to avoid the closure.
The California State Parks Service chose the new operator, American Land & Leisure,, after narrowing the options down to four qualified parties. TID staff had conducted their own search for a new concessionaire for the area, assuming the State would have abandoned Turlock Lake, as they had proposed.
As a desire to maintain several Central Valley state parks, the California State Parks Service began their own search process, leaving TID’s efforts insignificant.
Although the Board of Directors were glad to hear Turlock Lake would remain open, they also expressed frustration with being left out of the decision making process as to who would operate the area in a sub-lease with TID.
However, Carol Russell, Director of the Don Pedro Recreation Agency, reported to the Board of Directors that in the 30-year lease agreement between TID and the California State Parks Service there is no regulation stating that the California State Park Service cannot sublease the facility to a concessionaire.
Director Ron Macedo questioned whether it was necessary to vote on the subject matter then, since the decision had already been made without their consent.
“It’s our lake, and we’re just letting go of all control now,” stated Macedo.
Director Rob Santos also shared concerns regarding whether or not American Land & Leisure would increase rates, and whether or not the current park regulations, such as the prohibition of consuming alcohol, would remain in force.
“It’s my understanding that there was no intention to raise rates,” informed Russell. “In fact the State will be there until the 31st of July, and American Land & Leisure will come in around the 15th of July, and they will work side-by-side to make a seamless transition. There will be no change to fees, at least for this year.”
Russell also stated that the proposal from American Land & Leisure to the California State Park Services projected that American Land & Leisure would not be making money from operating the park, but would instead just break even during the 5-year lease period.
Also in regards to rates, TID staff reported that within the lease agreement between TID and the State there is a provision that proclaims TID’s oversight of the rates and charges of the lake and park area. TID will continue to retain the oversight of rates and charges, even with the new operators in place.
The Board of Directors unanimously chose to take no action on the matter, rather than affirming the contract between the State and American Land & Leisure.
For more information regarding Turlock Irrigation District, please visit www.TID.org or to read more information on Turlock Lake State Recreation Area, visit http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=555.