Local News

Recreation Areas May Be Next On List Of State Budget Cuts

Posted June 11, 2002

— From small towns to the state government, budget axes are flying, and recreation spots are getting hit. One proposed plan to help balance the state budget would close two lakes in Durham County.

Facing a tight budget, the Durham Parks and Recreation Department is looking at one very unpopular idea -- closing Lake Michie and Little River Lake to visitors.

"The city's tax revenues aren't coming in, and we've had to make cuts around the board," said Johnny Ford of the Durham Parks and Recreation Department.

The proposal is the main topic of discussion at Northern Bait and Tackle on Roxboro Road.

"Yes, it will definitely hurt the business. Sixty, 70, maybe 80 percent of my business in this store is people going to Little River and Lake Michie," owner Tom Ingram said.

There is a petition on Ingram's store counter near the minnow tanks asking the city not to close the lakes.

"I think what people fear more than anything else is that if those lakes close, they will never be open again," Ingram said.

Thomas Baker works at the lake and thinks closing it is a done deal.

"I got the papers saying my job was terminated June 28, and I was to let the part-time staff know that their jobs were terminated as of Sept. 1," Baker said.

The city of Durham is not alone in possibly cutting recreation areas to save money. The directors of many parks, aquariums and recreation areas across the state are now weighing options that include layoffs and reduced operating hours.

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