Calhoun County Park Board members and Calhoun County commissioners bandied about ideas to improve county parks during the Park Board’s budget hearing, Wednesday, July 17.

Allen Berger, president of the board, presented commissioners with a priority list along with ideas for funding improvements to the various parks.

“This is long term rather than a particular budget,” he said. “We have a lot of assets, especially with access to water.”

“Most people don’t realize there is a park in every precinct,” noted Commissioner Vern Lyssy.

The costs to manage the parks along with enhancements needs and their associated costs is what Berger sees in an action plan dedicated to parks. He told commissioners the meeting was a step toward developing that plan.

“We are eager to get started on this,” said Berger.

The amount of money needed and where it will come from was considered.

“We want to get the parks where they can sustain themselves,” said Lyssy. Some ideas for funding included grants, hotel/motel taxes, and fees to enter and use the parks.

“I would like to see the parks as self-sustaining as possible,” said Bill Harvey, who also serves on the park board.

“I’d like to see some of the burden taken off the taxpayer,” said Lyssy.

Green Lake was brought up as an urgent need because of a breach of saltwater into the freshwater.

“There has been some saltwater incursion but … if we don’t do some sort of bulkheading to raise the level of the lake and build a pipeline to divert the water the level could rise enough to get across the marsh,” said Commissioner Gary Reeves.

He is working on procuring funding to begin addressing the issue.

The commissioners agreed to set up an account for parks to see how far it would stretch. Lyssy noted that it costs about $1,000 a day for two days with two workers, benefits, vehicle fuel and maintenance and “that’s probably conservative. When you throw manpower in there, everything goes up.”

Berger said he would like to meet with individual commissioners to get a better understanding of spending and get a list of experts as well.

“I think we are headed in the right direction,” said Lyssy.