In addition to the fact the park provides great services to the thousands of people who visit the park, closing the park would actually have a negative impact on the state’s finances. As Gerry Connolly pointed out in a letter he sent to Gov. McDonnell, the revenue that the state would lose is actually five times greater than the money it would save by closing the park.
Last year, more than 88,000 people paid fees to visit the park’s day use area, and that figure does not include countless numbers of people who parked along High Point Road to explore other sections of the park abutting the day use area.In other words, this park is a prime example of how a government program can provide a valuable social resource to the local community at the same time that it helps the local economy. The fact that McDonnell’s proposal would so clearly have a negative impact on the community both socially and economically also highlights how the GOP simply is out of touch with reality when it comes to the budgetary process. Fortunately, we have leadership from some of our other elected officials like Connolly to help stand up for what’s right.
Furthermore, closure of the park will not save money for the Commonwealth. The negative economic impact of lost revenue to area businesses and lost sales tax and income tax payments to the Commonwealth is five times greater than the $101,904 the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation estimates the state will save by closing the park.
Visitors to the Mason Neck State Park last year spent more than $500,000 at local businesses in the area, generating approximately $27,500 in state sales tax revenue. That does not take into account additional revenue from the state income tax paid by those business owners and the day use fees paid by visitors to the park.