CARROLLTON, Ky. (May 2004) Visitors to Gen. Butler State
Resort Park in Carrollton, Ky., can now enjoy a steaming cup of Starbucks
coffee. The Kentucky Parks Department recently secured a deal with
the national gourmet coffee chain to allow Starbucks kiosks, small
serving stations, in the lobby of General Butler and at 10 other state
resort parks. Starbucks coffee also will be served in the parks
dining rooms and, at General Butler only, with the in-room coffee
service, according to Parks Department public information officer
courtesy of Starbucks
to Kentucky State Parks can now sip on Starbucks Coffee.
The introduction of Starbucks is just one of the Parks Departments
initiatives to help boost revenue and overcome an operating deficit.
Although the department receives $80 million a year in state funding,
it typically takes in only about $50 million, according to Carroll.
The goal is for us to raise our revenue as one way of eliminating
the $29 million subsidy the park system has had (from the state),
Other plans to get the park system in shape include an increase in
lodging fees, implementation of a new centralized reservation system
that includes online services, and trimming the fat from administrative
The responsibility for making sure these initiatives succeed will
fall primarily upon the shoulders of newly appointed parks commissioner
George Ward. A veteran hotel developer and manager, Ward has built,
owned and/or operated more than 30 hotels. He is now leading the overhaul
of Kentuckys state park system, one of the largest in the country
with 17 resort parks, 22 recreational parks and 10 historic sites.
Kentuckys state parks serve 7.6 million visitors a year and
contribute about $289 million to the economy, according to the parks
department. But despite these statistics, the parks department as
a whole has traditionally been a drain on state funds. Just one park,
Cumberland Falls, is financially self-sufficient, Ward said in an
interview that appeared in the April edition of The Lane Report business
Since he took office in February, Ward said he has uncovered multiple
examples of unnecessary expenses, including auto insurance premiums
paid for park vehicles that no longer run and excessive credit card
purchases made by state employees.
In one park, there were more than 100 charges by state employees
at the local Wal-Mart. It was clear there was no central system for
tracking expenses, Ward said. To curb such expenditures nearly
300 procurement cards held by park employees were revoked in February.
Ward also said he discovered inefficiency in the departments
construction and maintenance program. For example, during a recent
visit to General Butler he found several contract workers lounging
on the job.
When I went into a room being renovated, there were four workers
casually standing there smoking. I asked what everyone was doing,
they said, Were waiting for the paint to dry,
said Ward. He plans to avoid this kind of situation in the future
by replacing contract workers, those who are employed less than year-round
to carry out a variety of small construction and renovation projects,
with private labor supervised by permanent Parks employees. Not only
will this approach save time, it should also save the department money,
according to Ward.
In addition to making state parks self-sufficient, Ward also hopes
to make them engines of economic prosperity for surrounding areas.
Increasing the number of visitors is one way to make that happen.
General Butler already attracts to the Carrollton area more than 1
million visitors each year, according to Joey Graves, executive director
of the Carroll County Community Development Corporation. That
translates into more customers for our small businesses, he
said. Graves said it is also an incentive for new businesses to locate
there. When I tell them (General Butler) attracts 1 million
visitors a year, that gets their attention, he said.