[Source: Arizona Republic, Jim Walsh, 1-27-2010] — Apache Junction officials are so worried about economic fallout from the planned closure of Lost Dutchman State Park that they are considering annexing the iconic landmark. Apache Junction economic development director Steve Filipowicz said city officials are studying whether annexation would be feasible and whether it would make sense financially. Annexing the park could keep it open and preserve the estimated $4 million in economic impact the park provides from tourism.
At minimum, annexation would serve as a justification for city police officers to patrol the park to discourage vandalism, Filipowicz said. The move comes as cities, towns, counties and community groups from Flagstaff to Tubac are contemplating measures that would have been unthinkable only a few short years ago as they struggle to preserve some of Arizona’s natural and historic treasures in the face of deep budget cuts. Reacting to the Legislature’s decision in December to cut $8.6 million from the state parks budget, the Arizona State Parks Board voted earlier this month to take the unprecedented step of closing 21 of the 30 parks in the state system. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]