A pre-filed bill sponsored by State Representative Kenny Imes (R-Murray) seeks to give a financial boost to Kentucky State Parks by allowing private companies like restaurants and hotels to lease and develop state property.
The 5th district republican wants to take existing law relating to private development of Kentucky State Fair Board property and expands it to land owned by the Kentucky Department of Parks. Imes said he hopes the proposal will help Kentuckians see the big picture of the economic prospects that are going underutilized.
“While I’m doing it personally for Kenlake, Kentucky Dam and Barkley right there, with LBL being the largest tourism attraction in Kentucky, this wouldn’t be acute to us, it would allow East Kentucky to do the same thing," said Imes. "And, potentially, we could have another Gatlinburg, Tennessee sitting right there at our backdoor.”
Imes said the parks department spends $13 million more than what they take in, and the income generated from potential property leases would provide enough revenue to lower overage. Imes said he thinks Kentucky officials would welcome the opportunity to enhance the parks’ viability and help get them on the map for tourists.
Officials from the Kentucky Parks Department said they’re still reviewing the proposal and have not yet formed an official stance.