Private Management and Infrastructure Maintenance

The NY Times has more on NY park closures. Many of these parks are ones our company could keep open, but to date I have been reluctant to approach NY as I have Arizona, as I am skittish about trying to operate a business in that state.

The other night, an executive of Arizona State Parks told a public audience that Arizona had invested a lot of infrastructure in the parks and private companies intended to “run the parks into the ground” for profit.  I found this ironic, as I wrote the Arizona State Parks director in response:

It is hilarious to me that [Arizona Sate Park] management is pointing the finger at my company for running infrastructure into the ground.  [One State Park executive] has shown me the deferred maintenance book [for the state parks system].   I would venture that none of the facilities we have operated for any amount of time for any public authority has the compounded deferred maintenance issues you have in many of your parks.  Over the last 3 years, above and beyond regular routine maintenance, we have spent nearly $3 million in capital maintenance and refurbishment, and over $2 million in new facilities or whole facility replacements, all at public recreations areas.

Increasingly, our company has been brought in to a number of park systems to bring private capital to repairing years of deferred maintenance that the public entity can’t afford to address (most recent example here).  It seems like the New York system may be yet another example addressing the myth that somehow private entities are worse than government entities at regular maintenance:

The agency has already absorbed significant cuts in the last three years and during the peak summer months has a skeletal staff in place inside the state parks. “It’s not an agency that’s been dripping with dollars,” Ms. Dropkin said. “They were pretty lean to begin with. They do their best, but the infrastructure is really crumbling. They keep the bathroom doors together with duct tape.”