BUCKHORN — Officials overseeing Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park are looking to privatize one of the park’s services to offer more opportunities to visitors. As part of an ongoing initiative by the Kentucky Department of Parks, the Buckhorn marina could soon be operated privately.
Buckhorn Lake has a large marina with over 100 places for boats and rentals. The marina has always been owned and operated by the state parks, but an experiment at other parks has shown that private operators often times have more resources to put in to the marina than does the parks system.
“What we have found is when we get a good marina operator in there, they have the ability to make a cash investment that we may not be able to,” said Elaine Walker, Kentucky parks commissioner. “So in return, they are able to generate additional revenue.”
The idea of privatizing the marinas at state parks came from an outside consultant several years ago, and has been slowly implemented at different state parks. The private operators work in connection with the parks system that still holds ownership of the marina. Currently in Kentucky there are 14 marinas at state parks, and of those nine have been leased to private operators.
“Not every marina is leased out, and there have been some that are more successful than others,” Walker noted, but the partnership has proven to be beneficial in most cases. The parks can save some money on operating costs for the marinas that they can put into other areas of the parks, and the individuals have been able to bring in more business by making changes.
If a private owner does decide to lease the marina, it could mean changes for the people docking or renting boats, though the state park system will still be monitoring these changes and the marina to make sure it meets their standards.
“We go and yearly inspect every one of our leased facilities,” Walker explained. “We make sure the bathrooms are clean, that they are meeting all regulations, and all the buildings are up to code, that they are open the hours that they say they are going to be open.”
Walker said that offering Buckhorn Lake’s marina up to proposals for lease will bring it more in line what the trend in Kentucky State Parks. The lease for Buckhorn would be for 10 years with an option of two five-year renewals.
For anyone interested in leasing the marina and becoming the private operator, a proposal must be submitted to the marina along with revenue projections and an amount that would be paid as lease. The marina is being offered by the Division of Real Properties.
To submit a proposal it must be sent to Ms. Nancy Brownlee, Division of Real Properties, Third Floor, Bush Building, 403 Wapping Street, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601-2607.