It has recently come to light, that because of the State of Illinois' financial situation, Giant City State Park is facing closure. According to an article in the Southern Illinoisan newspaper, “Giant City Park will have to close. In the last decade, there has been more than a 60 percent reduction in funding to operate and maintain the park,” said Terri Treacy of the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter and Partners for Parks and Wildlife steering committee member.
Additionally, "Park Superintendent Bob Martin, who also oversees Trail of Tears State Park, described the situation as “being in dire straits” in regard to park maintenance and upkeep. Staffing for park positions, such as security officers and site technicians, has been reduced down to the bare minimum. Staff vehicles, including trucks and maintenance tractors, are more than 10 years old. Trucks and jeeps have logged more than 100,000 miles.
Some park facilities, such as shower houses, have shut down because they can’t be maintained. Picnic tables need paint. Fireplaces and many cooking grills have rusted and can’t be replaced because there is no money available.
“Our operations budget is non-existent. There’s not enough money to pay the bills,” Martin told the audience."
This is unacceptable because tourism estimates state that Southern Illinois generates nearly a half-billion dollars per year. Cindy Cain, So. Ill. tourism expert states, "“A majority of our visitors come here for our great outdoors. Our state parks and wildlife areas play a vital role in providing visitors with activities, amenities and services that keep bringing them back time and time again.”
Ideally, this is a petition to create a funding source for the State Parks that is not tied to the general funds of the state. The sole purpose would be to generate a revenue source that would maintain the viability of these great parks.
If a funding source cannot be removed from the general funds, we ask that the state guarantee that there will be an increase in funding to maintain Southern Illinois parks.
We are hereby petitioning Mike Bost, John Bradley, Brandon Phelps, Daniel Beiser, Gary Forby, Governor Pat Quinn, and Lt. Governor Sheila Simon to reconsider this drastic threat to the Southern Illinois economy. It is time that our representatives actually recognize that Southern Illinois generates a sizable portion of the state's economic well-being and our state parks are part of its vitality.
Please consider signing this petition to save our state parks.