A news release from the office of State Rep. Myron Dossett notes that several area legislators are requesting that the Kentucky Department of Parks reconsider a decision to close the beach at Pennyrile Forest State Park to the general public on weekends.
As of July 1, beach access has been limited to registered campground and lodging guests at the park, according to the press release, which also stated that Dossett, along with Reps. Jim Gooch, Melissa Gibbons-Prunty and Lynn Bechler, made a formal request to Parks Commissioner Russ Meyer in a letter dated June 25, 2021.
According to a conversation with Meyer, the decision to restrict access to the beach was made based on safety concerns due to overcrowding at the beach.
The state representatives asked Meyer to consider all possible solutions to prevent the closure of the beach for an extended period of time.
“We ask that you look at possible remedies which would keep the beach open, such as enlargement of the parking area, moving grills to another area, or enforcing all current rules and regulations for parking on roadsides,” the four wrote in their letter.
The beach is a popular tourist destination, with residents of Christian, Hopkins and surrounding counties regularly visiting.
“It is a little hard to accept the idea that the state is going to tell taxpayers they can’t enjoy a state park paid for with their tax dollars.” Dossett said. “While I appreciate the need for safety, closing on the weekends would be a detriment to individuals and their families who may not be able to afford vacations or outings to water parks.”
Gooch said the move runs counter to the growing trend of staycations and the money the state invests in marketing parks to Kentuckians.
“Our state parks continue to serve as desirable destinations not only for tourists, but also for local residents,” he said. “I am hopeful we can find another way to offer access without endangering safety. After all, we’re coming out of a pandemic and many Kentucky families are still struggling financially.
“Most can only enjoy time with their family on the weekend,” Gooch added. “We are committed to helping the (Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage) Cabinet find a workable solution to this issue.”
The cabinet oversees the parks department.
Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.