It's hard to believe. Alabama, the state, runs twenty-one state parks. They are actually run by the state conservation department.
They come to realize that over the years....so parks provide a profit and some don't. With a federal grant, they've somehow managed to survive. Well....up until now. The state is drawing up a plan for 2015.....to close down fifteen of the state parks.
Some parks.....like Bladon Springs, have been around since 1938.
The parks remaining? Well, you had to guess right on Gulf State Park, which is a four-star resort on the Gulf Coast. Wind Creek State Park? It'll be around as well, and is fairly well known for fishing competitions in the summer. Oak Mountain State Park has been around since the late 1920s and is just minutes away from Birmingham.
Some of the parks on the closure list? Guntersville State Park made it on the list . They actually had horseback riding potential, a championship golf course, and a fishing center.
Joe Wheeler State Park, from where I grew up.....made it on the closure list. It has a major boating center and a championship golf course. It also has a major hotel resort.....right on the water.
I admit five or six of the parks on the closure list.....just aren't pulling in enough customers to make them worth the effort of saving.
The closure business is not a guaranteed thing.....it's simply the first step and the state will go through the motions. My humble guess is that by December of this year.....at least three parks will go final and shut down. Maybe another three or four will shut down by the end of 2016.
My general view of the Joe Wheeler complex is that it's got all the dynamics to be a mega recreation center. The complex has been on plan A since it's beginnings in the early 1980s with the hotel and golf course. A few additions occurred over the last decade.....but they really haven't been forward-thinking or aggressive about visitors or use.
With the right advertising, a few added features, and some figure (TV star or entertainer) as a 'host'.....they could probably double the business that they currently achieve....all within three years. They could easily add more cabins and cottages. Another hotel could be put up on the property with more revenue potential. Advertising via national magazines would attract more RV visitors.
So, my suggestion is for the city of Rogersville (their next door municipality) to ask for the property and hire up a couple of smart folks to rebuild the image of the park.
I admit.....some of these state parks are practically dead and there's just not much you can save. These are parks that never should have been made into state parks.
Bottom line? This might be the best thing to happen to Joe Wheeler State Park....ever. And they might take the park to a whole new level within the next decade.