Kentucky’s new law authorizing the use of P3s to develop infrastructure projects will allow the state to seek much needed private investment in state parks, the top tourism official said.
Kentucky has 49 state parks, 17 of which are resort parks that feature popular amenities such as marinas, golf courses and pools, Don Parkinson, the state’s tourism cabinet secretary, said in an Aug. 30 interview posted on the state’s Chamber of Commerce news website.
“We have more waterfront than any other state except for Alaska,” he noted.
Although Kentucky has allocated $18 million to improve park lodges and camping areas, the park system still needs to address more than $241 million in deferred maintenance in its facilities and needs even more to protect wildlife, including more than 10,000 elk that live on these lands.
“The good news is that we have a lot of pent-up demand,” Parkinson said. “People want to come and invest in Kentucky.”
He noted that federal parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone have used P3s to improve and maintain these tourist attractions, as have other states such as West Virginia.
Even before the new P3 legislation was signed into law in April, Kentucky began seeking developers for a P3 to build a marina in a state park that was developed on federally owned land and is relying on this procurement method to build social infrastructure projects ranging from student housing to a statewide broadband network.
Parkinson believes, however, that the state’s move to officially endorse the use of P3s for transportation and other infrastructure development will encourage more private teams to invest in, improve and even operate and maintain state park assets, which will save the state money and add to the budget through increased tourism revenue.
NCPPP and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce will host a meeting October 27-28 in Lexington to discuss Kentucky’s new P3 law and the opportunities and challenges it poses for state agencies and private developers. For more details, including registration and sponsorship information, visit the event website.