Four parks around Lake Lanier will now be open only on the weekend due to a budget shortfall, said the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Duckett Mill, Bolding Mill, Sawnee and Van Pugh South parks have limited their hours of operation to between 7 a.m. Thursday and 3 p.m. Sunday every week,
While the corps’ recreation budget has remained largely consistent over the past few years, the rising cost of operation and maintenance has made it difficult to keep the parks open seven days a week, said Operations Project Manager Tim Rainey.
“We went over our recreation budget in previous years and we realized this year that we cannot afford to keep operating the way we have been,” Rainey said. “We hated shutting it down on everyone but we needed to.”
The corps chose the four parks with the lowest occupancy rates for the weekly closing, Rainey said.
“There have been very few nights, even on the weekends, when these parks have reached 100 percent capacity,” he said.
“Often I hear people say the government should operate more like a business. In this case, I think we have done that.”
Not everyone, however, is disappointed by the news.
Jayne Olderman is a local resident who enjoys walking her dog, Lakota, in the closed parks without the presence of campers.
“We were glad when we heard the park was closing because that means the park is opening for us,” Olderman said.
She’s not the only one. Olderman states that she has encountered approximately 20 people walking their dogs in the closed parks.
“We keep our dogs on a leash and clean up their refuse so no one bothers us,” she said.
However, the official line is that no one is allowed in the parks when they are closed.
“Whenever there are people in the parks, they’re liable to injure themselves or to leave trash,” Rainey said.
But for now, it seems the park has gone to the dogs.