After emotional hearing, Arizona state parks board puts off decision on closures

[Source: Andrea Wilson, Cronkite News Service] — Eileen Gannon’s ancestors gave Arizona the land and structures that make up Riordan Mansion State Historic Park in Flagstaff.  The agreement has the property reverting to the family if the park closes.  On Tuesday, with Arizona State Parks recommending closing Riordan and seven other parks as it deals with budget cuts, Gannon said her family would wind up having to protect the 13,000-square-foot mansion and its historic artifacts, something that she said it isn’t in a position to do.  “This would be an enormous problem for my family,” Gannon told the Arizona State Parks Board during an emotional public hearing.

Rather than endorsing the plan, the board asked Arizona State Parks to look at options other than closures, such as employee furloughs and cutting back on park hours, before it takes up the issue again at its Feb. 20.  “We need a bigger menu of options,” said State Land Commissioner Mark Winkleman, a member of the board.

Ken Travous, the agency’s executive director, also proposed closing Fort Verde State Historic Park in Camp Verde, Homolovi Ruins State Park in Winslow, Lyman Lake State Park in Springerville, McFarland State Historic in Florence, Oracle State Park, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park.  Travous said he selected the parks based on visitor counts and the cost of running them as the agency tries to deal with a deficit projected to reach $647,000 by June.  “We need to make up a lot of money real fast,” he said. “We’re out of time.”

The board’s seven members said they regretted having to address the possibility of closures because they have attachments to the parks.  “It makes me sick to think that we are in this situation, but we are,” said Reese Woodling, the board’s chairman.   [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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