Privatize public parks?

Has nothing escaped the privatization trend? The Chicago Skyway and Chicago parking meters. Mayor Richard M. Daley tried to privatize Midway Airport. From  garbage pickup to prisons everything seems eligible.

Except for parks.

Now goes New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is pushing the privatization of state parks. According to the South Jersey News:

New Jersey will partially privatize its state parks system to help close a deficit and improve services, with Wharton State Forest in the Pinelands acting as a pilot site for the new approach.

The plan will keep parks open, affordable, and under state control despite a $31 million operating deficit for the facilities, according to Gov. Christie, who made the announcement Wednesday at Liberty State Park in Jersey City.

Will it lead to increased user fees and reduced public access? Or is it the answer to the $31 million deficit? Will the parks be branded, named after, say a hot dog?

The imagination goes into overdrive when thinking about the possibilities of privatizing Chicago's and Illinois' public parks. Admission fee for Millennium Park or Navy Pier? Chicago's museums are on park land and already charge a fee. Maybe it's not so far-fetched, at least in some minds.

 

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    Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.

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