Cumberland Falls State Park will be missing two of its amenities, at least for 2016, as the swimming pool will remain closed and the Blair Conference Building has been condemned.
Park Manager Roy Johnson said the pool is in need of a new liner, which will cost approximately $132,000.
“We were able to patch it for the last few seasons but the damage has just gotten too bad,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the pool typically brings in approximately $25,000 in revenue for the park. While it is free for guests at the lodge to use, campers pay $2 and visitors pay $5 per day to use it.
Johnson said whether or not the pool is repaired in time for the 2017 season is entirely up to officials with the Kentucky Department of Parks in Frankfort.
“That is a capital project, so it is in Frankfort’s hands,” Johnson said.
Park managers across the state have submitted a wish list of capital projects to the department of parks.
Officials at the department of parks will use those wish lists to create a priority list.
“We will find out in the middle of July,” Johnson said.
Until the pool is repaired, Johnson said he is working with officials at the waterpark in Williamsburg as an option for lodge guests.
“At least we will have advertisements to direct them to the waterpark,” Johnson said.
Officials with the department of parks said the Blair Conference Building next to the lodge has been closed because of deterioration in the wooden support beams of the roof.
Johnson said the building is not fixable and will have to be demolished.
“We are hoping for a new conference center, but that is up to the legislature,” Johnson said, noting Cumberland Falls is one of the few state parks that does not have a conference building.
Johnson said group sales generate approximately $300,000 annually at Cumberland Falls out of a budget of approximately $520,000.
The park still offers several options such as the great room and other conference rooms inside the lodge, which enables the park to host conferences and meetings for groups up to 550.
“We were able to accommodate just about every single group that was already on the schedule in house,” Johnson said, noting there were two exceptions.
Gil Lawson, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Parks, said department officials are examining the options on what to do next, noting neither of these issues are unique to Cumberland Falls State Park.
Rep. Regina Bunch, R-Williamsburg, said she has spoken with both Governor Matt Bevin and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, asking for parks money to be allocated to fix the pool.
“It is something that will affect revenue there,” Bunch said. “We need to be working on getting that fixed quickly.”
Bunch said she would know more by next week.
“We put a lot of money into the parks department,” Bunch said.
Barring that, Bunch said she may look at combining revenue sources to find the necessary funds for the pool.
In past years, legislators from coal-producing counties have been able to direct how the coal severance tax revenue their counties receive are allocated.
While those decisions have been turned over to the fiscal courts of those counties, Bunch said she would be approaching the Whitley County Fiscal Court in an effort to direct some of the $200,000 the county will receive toward the pool repairs.
Bunch emphasized that it will not be done at the expense of the funding provided to the volunteer fire departments throughout the county.