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Old 08-15-2022, 06:51 PM   #1
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State Park maintenance

Just spent a few days at a State Park in Central Minnesota. Around $45 a night after taxes and fees.
It's an older Park built in the 1920s and 30s. It's really starting to show its age.
I've stayed there 5 times in the last 3 years, 5 different sites.
Not one is even close to level on the parking pad. This time it took me 4 layers of 2x6s to make my TT level side to side, 6" that is.
Front of trailer had my stabilizer Jack's fully extended and the back took one or two turns.
The rest of the site was black dirt.
Rained hard a few days prior so it was muddy.
No grass except a little around the edges.
Picnic table dirty and full of oil spots I guess a table cloth fixes that but you know what I mean.
Fire pit full of coors light cans and trash. Cig butts everywhere.

Bottom line is I saw all kinds of Park rangers, and maintenance workers trimming brush where it was obviously unnecessary. And a lot of shovel leaning. Brand new trucks and everything.
They need to put a little money back into the place before I go back.

Am I too harsh??
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Old 08-15-2022, 07:57 PM   #2
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All state parks have been having funding issues for years. Some in my state are better than others. But then, I'm paying only half price, so I can't complain too much when I'm paying only $15/nite (including taxes & fees)

Have you written the state park's DNR about the conditions? They're responsible for maintaining & allocating funds.
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Old 08-15-2022, 11:45 PM   #3
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Take it from someone who spent decades in facility maintenance for a public funded institution. The reasons are complicated. It can be as simple as lousy leadership, and some bad employees or department apathy, but there's a saying I came up with: "There's no glory in periodic maintenance." Meaning you don't climb the administrative ladder by putting on your resume that you kept the gutters clean, the buildings painted, and the asphalt pot hole free. Taking care of roofs, keeping buildings painted, plumbing and electrical in good working order is costly and labor intensive. People with many of those skills cost more money than someone who can trim bushes and rake leaves. You can get two groundkeepers for the price of one journeyman electrician or plumber. It's very common to raid maintenance budgets for more exciting projects. In many parks you'll see a lot of deteriorating facilities, surrounding a new visitor's center or display. Those are the "glory projects." Ones I liked to say "looked good in the brochure."

At the best of times we had someone in charge (high up) that believed we were the caretakers of the public's property, and our facilities reflected it. In more recent years (I'm retired now) we had people in charge who felt buildings have a fixed service life, and should be replaced with new ones every X number of decades, so why waste much money on expensive maintenance when that money is "needed elsewhere." "Need" is a fluid term.

As for new trucks, odds are they are paid for by a completely different budget. One issue with any facility maintenance is the longer you let it go, the more it costs to bring it back up to good condition, but it's easy to let a roof rot over 30 years and just send a guy up there to patch the leaks with a can of wet patch and putty knife. Ask me how I know. The public doesn't see the roof anyway. Frankly you'd be surprised at what the public doesn't notice.

I totally understand your frustration. Every facility I visit I see through the eyes of someone who did facility maintenance for most of my adult life. Places that are well taken care of are quite rare. It's a shame. I have many, many, stories, and I'm only one data point from one publicly funded institution, in one town, but from what I've seen in my travels, my experience appears to be repeated in so many places.

Oh, and the squeaky wheel does work, IF there's enough squeaky wheels, but sometimes the squeaks don't make it high enough up to make a difference. Doesn't hurt to try. We had to address issues because a single person complained about something. At other times it seemed like nothing could be done regardless of the number of complaints. It can be all about timing, so it's always worth a try.
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Old 08-16-2022, 04:41 AM   #4
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It's a state by state problem but I can state the NC's state parks are in terrible shape for the most part. It didn't start with covid shut downs.
SC on the other hand has raised site prices to combat the deterioration and it shows. The downside is that the commercial parks nearby found that they were cheaper. Now they aren't.
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Old 08-16-2022, 05:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrnmrtom View Post
Take it from someone who spent decades in facility maintenance for a public funded institution. The reasons are complicated. It can be as simple as lousy leadership, and some bad employees or department apathy, but there's a saying I came up with: "There's no glory in periodic maintenance." Meaning you don't climb the administrative ladder by putting on your resume that you kept the gutters clean, the buildings painted, and the asphalt pot hole free. Taking care of roofs, keeping buildings painted, plumbing and electrical in good working order is costly and labor intensive. People with many of those skills cost more money than someone who can trim bushes and rake leaves. You can get two groundkeepers for the price of one journeyman electrician or plumber. It's very common to raid maintenance budgets for more exciting projects. In many parks you'll see a lot of deteriorating facilities, surrounding a new visitor's center or display. Those are the "glory projects." Ones I liked to say "looked good in the brochure."

At the best of times we had someone in charge (high up) that believed we were the caretakers of the public's property, and our facilities reflected it. In more recent years (I'm retired now) we had people in charge who felt buildings have a fixed service life, and should be replaced with new ones every X number of decades, so why waste much money on expensive maintenance when that money is "needed elsewhere." "Need" is a fluid term.

As for new trucks, odds are they are paid for by a completely different budget. One issue with any facility maintenance is the longer you let it go, the more it costs to bring it back up to good condition, but it's easy to let a roof rot over 30 years and just send a guy up there to patch the leaks with a can of wet patch and putty knife. Ask me how I know. The public doesn't see the roof anyway. Frankly you'd be surprised at what the public doesn't notice.

I totally understand your frustration. Every facility I visit I see through the eyes of someone who did facility maintenance for most of my adult life. Places that are well taken care of are quite rare. It's a shame. I have many, many, stories, and I'm only one data point from one publicly funded institution, in one town, but from what I've seen in my travels, my experience appears to be repeated in so many places.

Oh, and the squeaky wheel does work, IF there's enough squeaky wheels, but sometimes the squeaks don't make it high enough up to make a difference. Doesn't hurt to try. We had to address issues because a single person complained about something. At other times it seemed like nothing could be done regardless of the number of complaints. It can be all about timing, so it's always worth a try.
Well said. This applies to so many other government operations, not just parks.
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Old 08-16-2022, 06:03 AM   #6
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Ohio has been updating the campgrounds for the last 3-4 years. Even the small park in Mt. Gilead has received some updates to the small campground. Ceasar's Creek State Park had a huge make-over, as did Lake Cowen State Park in Clinton County.
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Old 08-16-2022, 07:40 AM   #7
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Mn has a very extensive system of state parks, and they are in *very* high demand throughout the system, and they do put a lot if effort into maintaining them. The ones we have been to have been just fine. In fact they just completed an expansion and modernization of camping spots at a major cg on the north shore of lake superior. Just like roads, you cant get everything fixed at once Ö so i would not judge the entire system by that one experience.

Oh, and maintenance budgets are not just about the camp sites. There are buildings to be mantained, and almost all of the campgrounds have extensive hiking trails that need tobe cleared and maintained (mowing, clearing deadfalls, putting down wood chips sometimes, etc). It probably all comes out of the same budget.
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Old 08-16-2022, 08:31 AM   #8
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It seems like many state park campgrounds we designed and built back in the 50s & 60s when most people tent camped. They had no reason to make the driveways level since people didn't set up tents there. We see this often in Colorado, even where all the roads and site driveways are paved. The newer state parks were designed with RV use in mind and the sites are level, plus they often have full hookups.

To bring state parks up to modern RV use would require lots of work. They'd have to shut down the campgrounds for a year or more like was done at Fishing Bridge at Yellowstone.
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Old 08-16-2022, 03:21 PM   #9
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Nearly all of the states have underfunded state parks, and it has been this way for years. To get more money into the system, they could raise the nightly rates, but the people would raise cane at the higher rates. Every time some money is allocated to the state parks, it seems that the politicians manage to find a way to siphon the money off to their favorite pork-barrel projects.

One way you can help is to volunteer at the parks to help with the maintenance and educational projects. In Texas, most of the parks have a donation box for either the park or the Friends group that goes directly to the park and not the state. The volunteer and Friends groups are both a great help to the parks in keeping smaller things repaired so that the little money from the state can go to more major projects.

To volunteer, you can visit a state park near your residence and volunteer a few hours a month if that is all the time you have. You do not have to volunteer for months on end like a park host.

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Old 08-18-2022, 07:12 PM   #10
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Just a thought
You might want to try what we do when we go to a State park ( I live in Minnesota) we always walk around with a campground map and circle the site's that we like and can fit into with my rig that way I have it for the next time when making reservations. No surprises!
I think MN has some pretty nice state parks, as mentioned some are old and not made to accommodate larger vehicles.
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Old 08-18-2022, 10:46 PM   #11
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Just a thought
You might want to try what we do when we go to a State park ( I live in Minnesota) we always walk around with a campground map and circle the site's that we like and can fit into with my rig that way I have it for the next time when making reservations. No surprises!
I had to smile. We do that also. However, in a county park in Arizona we did it and the park host saw us and reported us to the ranger who came barreling up in his official car. Turned out the host thought we were making notes for possible theft of articles left at camp sites! The ranger got a big kick out of it!
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Old 08-21-2022, 03:24 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Toby Dog View Post
It's a state by state problem but I can state the NC's state parks are in terrible shape for the most part.

Interestingly, the closer you get to Raleigh the better the parks.
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