Politics

Parks supporters want hidden money used for parks

Thursday, July 26, 2012

People who donated money to keep California's parks open during the budget crisis are furious about hidden money suddenly discovered in state accounts that could have kept 70 parks off the chopping block and that now might not be used to save them at all. Some conservation groups are threatening to take action.

Several Bay Area non-profits are definitely concerned, especially after many of them raised money to keep the parks open.

Dan McCranie is treasurer of the Coe Park Preservation Fund. He can't believe it's not a given that the state would use the newly discovered $54 million or at least part of that money to restore the parks slated for closure.

Henry W. Coe State Park near Morgan Hill was on that list until McCranie's group stepped in. In May, it gave the state a check for $279,000 -- privately raised money to keep the park open. The group also promised to raise that same amount for the next two years and give it to the state.

"If we don't get assurances from the legislature that they will move the funds back into the state parks then we will dissolve the memo of understanding," McCranie said.

In other words, the group won't make those future payments.

Other non-profits, like the one dedicated to saving Castle Rock State Park, located along the Santa Cruz-Santa Clara County line, want their money back.

State legislators haven't committed either way, but action has been taken with regard to staffing. State parks director Ruth Coleman resigned Friday and her top deputy was fired.

Meanwhile, the Sacramento Bee is reporting that a former state parks deputy director told Coleman five times over five years about the hidden money. Coleman says she doesn't recall these briefings.

The Coe Park Preservation Fund will give the state until Sept. 30 to make the decision.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
sacramento, california budget crisis, budget cuts, politics, lisa amin gulezian
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