Missouri officials say the state is not currently planning to sell four new state parks.
Former Gov. Jay Nixon's administration bought the four parks but they haven't been opened. The possibility of selling the parks was mentioned in the Legislature and the park division, as Missouri tries to solve a $200 million maintenance backlog at its other parks.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Ben Ellis, director of Missouri State Parks, said last week the state isn't considering selling the parks at the present time.
The parks are Ozark Mountain State Park in Taney County; Jay Nixon State Park in Reynolds and Iron counties; and Bryant Creek State Park in Douglas County. A lawsuit has been filed challenging the legality of the fourth park, Eleven Point State Park in Oregon County.
It’s unclear at this time how the multi-million dollar maintenance backlog may impact the two state parks in the Lake region, Ha Ha Tonka and Lake of the Ozarks state parks.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park in particular has immediate maintenance concerns with the “castle” ruins that are a main feature of the park voted fourth best in the United States in a 2015 USA TODAY Best State Parks survey and the eighth most visited park in the Missouri system.
In 2016, stones displaced at the ruins of the 1920s era mansion destroyed by fire in 1942 prompted a masonry study of the mansion walls and water tower. This assessment revealed the need for immediate repairs estimated at $500,000 with another $165,000 in short term repairs advised.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources budgeted $150,000 for a study to determine the best way to fix castle walls as Missouri State Parks put up more permanent fencing and signage around the ruins to limit access to the possibly unstable structure.
Recent e-mails from the Lake Sun to the Missouri State Parks Information Division requesting an update on this issue and other possible maintenance issues at Ha Ha Tonka State Park — based on concerns from a Camdenton area resident who is a former park employee — have gone unanswered.