Presenters: Walt Dabney

Commission Agenda Item No. 5
State Parks Preview
April 2000

I. Discussion: Progress is underway on a number of projects that Texas State Park visitors will begin to enjoy as soon as this summer.

A new concessionaire took over operation of Longhorn Cavern State Park on April 1, 2000. Expanded promotions and increased community involvement are expected from the new operator.

The State Parks Division has expanded the park intern program for the coming summer. 129 applicants competed for 56 slots at sites across the state. On site recruitment efforts and interviews were conducted at Prairie View A&M, A&M College Station, UT Austin, UT El Paso, Sul Ross, North Texas, Baylor, Southwest Texas, Stephen F Austin, and Texas Tech. The effort was coordinated with the Texas Recreation and Parks Society. Students selected were from the schools above, as well as Abilene Christian, TAMU - Galveston, Southwestern, St. Edwards, Our Lady of the Lake, UT - Tyler, Arkansas Tech, Southwest Missouri State and Lamar University.

Development of 11 cottages is currently underway at Lake Colorado City State Park. The work is being completed through Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmate labor. The stone cabins should be ready for visitors by September 2000.

Renovation of base station and the observation level at the Franklin Mountain State Park Aerial Tramway is 90% complete. Negotiations are currently underway for recabling the tram, which is expected to take about two months. Once the cabling project is completed, road improvements will commence and take about 6 months to complete. Hopefully the Tram will be fully operational and open to the public by early 2001.

In January, the Texas State Railroad State Historical Park received $7 million in matching federal funds to rebuild a historical diesel locomotive, replace two steam engine boilers (one 99 years old, the other 88 years old), and rebuild 80 year old rails and bridges on 25 miles of track. The project was approved by the Texas Transportation Commission as part of the Transportation Enhancement Program of the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), successor to the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). The Texas Department of Transporation (TxDOT) administers TEA-21 in Texas.

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