A Path to Solvency for the DCR?

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Though I have been unable to leave the BGC behind (it really was that good an event), I cannot take credit for the following post. It comes from one of our summer interns, Katharine Sheehan, a senior year BC:

“The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA), runner-up at the BGC, has transformed its operations in just a matter of years and cut operating costs while increasing usership and revenues. As a result, the NVRPA is now a self-sufficient agency, producing enough revenue that it no longer relies on state and local funding. The key to its success is simple: the NVRPA reinvented itself by implementing a market-focused strategy.

Here in Massachusetts, the DCR, which oversees the state park system, has a backlog of repairs that is estimated at $1.2 billion. To resolve this, it seems its best bet would be to follow the NVRPA’s lead. The DCR should invest in a marketing strategy to encourage park visitation. With visitation comes potential revenues and the DCR is in dire need of revenue to get itself out of its financial bind.

In May, former Westfield Mayor Richard Sullivan was named DCR commisioner. He has been described as “a good financial manager”. Hopefully, Mr. Sullivan and his financial management skills can reinvent the DCR and eliminate the backlog of needed repairs. If he can, it seems likely he could implement a system much like that of the NVRPA, which would allow the DCR to operate on its own profits, rather than relying on state or federal aid. Because, currently, the DCR receives its money from outside sources, it must forfeit any revenue it collects. If the DCR were instead able to reinvest that money (much like the NVRPA does), the DCR might just be able to achieve self-sufficiency. At the very least, we would see a significantly smaller backlog of needed repairs.”