Florida may still consider privatizing camping at State Parks

Plans scrapped for privatized camps at some parks

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The Governor's Office has scrapped a plan that would have allowed private companies to set up camping facilities at four state parks.

Even so, lawmakers may still privatize camping at other facilities, including John D. MacArthur State Park. It's an idea that's raising concerns from visitors and campers alike.

On sunny days, visitors flock to John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. It's known for its beauty, access to the water and beach.

Frequent park guests like Chris Chan, who was visiting family from New York, worry that allowing private campgrounds could change that.

"That might bring a lot of noisiness and a lot of companies trying to build up other shops," he said. "Right now, it's more private, more secluded for the guests that want to come."

It has others worrying about who could be running the camps.

"It's a state park so you don't want anyone moving in and disrupting the peace and an all over mess," explained Daphna More of Lake Worth. "It's a nice idea, but I don't know that it would work out that well."

Some park guests think adding campgrounds could work.

"As long as it's environmentally friendly and takes care of the sea turtle, the wildlife, it could be a good thing," said Jimmy Rivera of New York.

The nearest state park to MacArthur State Park that allows camping is Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound. Both Jonathan Dickinson and MacArthur State Park see about 150-thousand visitors a year. Only at Jonathan Dickinson, about 59-thousand of those visitors are overnight guests.

Robert and Sandra Johnstone from Fort Lauderdale go camping almost every month.

"The freedom, the outdoors, yeah," Sandra Johnstone said. "You're away from the city for awhile."

However, even they have concerns about whether private companies or the state would be running the camp grounds.

"It really depends a lot on if it's going to cost us more money because we're seniors, Florida seniors," she added.

Governor Scott said he wants to make Florida's state parks more popular with visitors, but right now, with the idea drawing opposition from Democrats and Republicans, it may not be moving ahead for awhile.




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