Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Speak up for Hillsborough County Parks- July 16

From: GatorBob
TO: Outdoor Recreational Enthusiast and Families

SUBJECT: Hillsborough County Regional and Wilderness Parks Are About To Close.

Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in their budget public hearing on Thursday, July 16th. Will consider seriously cutting the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation, and Conservation Department (HCPRC) budget that will leave the HCPRC no choice, but to close some or all of the 14 Regional and Wilderness Parks, serving over 4.9 million visitors like YOU and your family members.

Closures, shorter hours, and opening only for 2 or 3 days a week of these County Parks will seriously affect your access to many of the natural areas within the county where you can SAFELY hike, bike, paddle, or sit quietly reading a good book. I just can’t imagine not having a park to take the grand children for a picnic or summer birthday party. Moms and Dads won’t have access to our park system to teach their children about the pleasures of fishing, canoeing and kayaking or about nature in general.

The Parks Department does a remarkable job of maintaining the 16,500 acres of natural areas in the 14 sites that make up the County Regional Park system.

Currently, every person, regardless of their age, physical abilities, or income has access to our County Parks during daylight hours, seven days a week, 365 day a year

Under the proposed 2010 budget plan, of the 109 full time park rangers and managers, 54 will be terminated that were funded in the last budget cycle. 20 of those positions are currently vacant due to a hiring freeze. With only 55 employees left, keeping up with maintenance like mowing, cleaning rest rooms and emptying the garbage cans will become a challenge, with less security, trail maintenance and overall repairs to the facilities picnic pavilions and nature centers. Further cuts proposed in the 2011 budget cycle, under consideration at this same public hearing, will cut an additional 35 full time regional parks personnel forcing some or all the regional parks to close permanently.

At times when the tax revenue was in surplus, the HCPRC Wilderness and Regional Parks received a pittance increase in their budget. Now that revenues are well below budget, the Parks Department will be hit with a dis-appropriate amount of terminations and reduced funding.

Hillsborough County Regional and Wilderness Parks have been featured all over the world and are well known as some of the finest natural areas in Florida , if not the United States . Appearing in TV commercials, movies, travel magazines and newspapers has made our parks “a have to” travel destination, supporting the 16 million visitors annually to Hillsborough County who spend 1.3 billion dollars in our local businesses. The unintended consequences of neglecting our natural areas, preserves and parks will not only impact our recreation, but have a devastating effect on our local economy and the very jobs that support our families. NOW is the time to let YOUR voice be heard.

July 16th. County Center , Commission Boardroom, 2nd floor, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd , Tampa , STARTING at 6PM.
If you cannot personally attend, then send a postcard or letter to BOCC Budget Hearing, P.O. Box 1110, Tampa, Florida, 33602 OR E-mail your Commissioners at; . Do a friend a favor and tell them what’s happening by sending them a copy of this E-mail.

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