The State of California plans to close Merced County's George J. Hatfield and McConnell State Recreation Areas, but a local businessman is doing his part to keep them open.
Dave Dubyak, owner of Dubyak Family Chiropractic, will host a Save Our Parks Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 10 at his business, located at 3008 Geer Rd.
The fundraising event will look to generate a portion of the $64,000 supporters need to raise by March 31 to keep the two parks open.
“If they close the parks, I can't imagine the revenue it would require to reopen them,” Dubyak said. “It's either save them or they're gone forever, is the way I look at it.”
With $22 million in budget reductions planned for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, California State Parks expects to close up to 70 of its 279 state parks – including Hatfield, McConnell, and Turlock Lake, which the Turlock Irrigation District is currently discussing. Those parks were selected due to relatively low attendance and a lack of “significant resources.”
Once closed, the State of California will shutter parks to visitors, reclaim picnic tables and placards, and deprive local residents of access to natural resources.
If local residents can fundraise the difference between the State of California's costs to operate the parks and current gate revenues – a difference tabbed at $64,000 – Hatfield and McConnell may be able to escape that fate.
Dubyak said he only expects to raise a few thousand dollars from the Save our Parks Fair. But a big turnout could go a long way toward saving the parks, he said.
“I'm hoping a lot of people come,” Dubyak said.
The Save our Parks fair will feature the Happy Taco truck, Gilligan's Ice snow cone shack, and a bounce house from ABC Bouncin Abby. Fantazia Dance will provide entertainment.
All booths will offer raffle prizes, with tickets available for $2.
“We're going to try to sell billions of tickets,” Dubyak said.
Woods Furniture will raffle off a sofa, Dale's Guitar a guitar, and Taylor Veterinary Emergency Hospital will offer a puppy care package. Other raffle prizes include a free month of classes from I Am Yoga, a large dog carrier from Tractor Supply Company, and four sessions from Miguel Gallegos Reflexology. Camera's Clothing, Angelini's, and Sharkey's Billiards will offer gift certificates.
Also expected at the event are: Pet Avenue; Become Beauty; the East Merced Resource Conservation District; Gold Canyon Candles; Brenda Athletic Clubs; Body by Vi; Avon; Moore's Martial Arts; Togo's Sandwiches; and, Mr. Pickles, Dubyak said.
For information on having a booth at the Save our Parks Fair, call 668-1944.
To donate, write checks to East Merced Resource Conservation District with “Save the Parks” in the memo line, and mail to EMRCD, 2135 Wardrobe Ave., Suite C, Merced, CA 95341 or visit emrcd.org/save-mcconnell-and-hatfield-state-parks