As Mass Closures Loomed, CA Parks Hoarded a Pile of Green

When California planned to close 70 parks this month to save $22 million, donors sprang into action to help keep them open. It turns out they needn't have, as last week it was revealed the CA Dept. of Parks and Recreation stashed away $54 million.

News broke on Friday that while the California Department of Parks and Recreation "painted a dire picture of the system's health, soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations in what was thought to be a desperate scramble to keep facilities open," a trove of nearly $54 million remained untapped in two funds, report Chris Megerian and Patrick McGreevy. As a result, Ruth Coleman, director of the department since 2002, resigned, and her second in command, acting Chief Deputy Michael Harris, was fired. 

At this time it is "unclear whether mismanagement or deliberate deceit led to the concealment of the funds," write Megerian and McGreevy. Finding an answer to this question will no doubt be the aim of an investigation lauched by the state attorney general's office.

"'It disgusts me,' said Myra Hilliard, who donated and helped raise money for the Pio Pico State Historic Park in Whittier. 'Is anybody honest about anything anymore? Here we are working so hard to keep the park open and they have all this money they aren't telling us about.'"

Secretary John Laird of the California Natural Resources Agency, which oversees the department, "said in a conference call with reporters that lawmakers will ultimately decide how to appropriate the surplus." 

Full Story: California parks department finds $54-million surplus

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 2012

Thinking about Grad School?

You need the essential resource for prospective planning students
Starting at $24.95
Book cover of Unsprawl

Unsprawl: Remixing Spaces as Places

Explore visionary, controversial and ultimately successful strategies for building people-centered places.
Starting at $12.95