LUCAS — State officials announced Monday $2.3 million in improvements to be made to Barren River Lake State Resort Park.
The announcement was made during a press conference at the state park.
The improvements include re-roofing and making various exterior repairs to the Louie B. Nunn Lodge; upgrading the campground; investing in hospitality upgrades at the lodge; upgrading the sprinkler system at the lodge; and upgrading the wastewater treatment system at the state park.
“Coming up what we're going to see is the lodge exterior repairs and the re-roofing of the lodge,” said Regina Stivers, deputy secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. “That's already going out to bid, so it will probably be either late this fall or early winter of next year when we start seeing that.”
The upgrades to the wastewater treatment system will begin in the upcoming year along with upgrades to the sprinkler system and the hospitality improvements at the lodge, she said.
In 2020, improvements to the campground will be made, as well as repairs to exterior lighting, replacement of kitchen equipment, replacement of a chiller and a compressor, lobby repairs, new heaters in the cottages and some asbestos testing, Stivers said.
Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, shared a story a fellow senator told him about a visit to a state park campground he made with his family a few years ago and how he wished some minor improvements could be made before his next visit.
“Now I will be able to go back to him and say, 'Senator, we made the improvements. You owe me another visit,'” Givens said. “Sincerely, we appreciate the leadership of the administration. It was truly a team effort because of the challenging economic times that we've had to face. I'm excited about what the future looks like.”
Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow, said he also appreciates the investment that will be made.
“This lake is special to our community. This park is special to our community,” he said, adding that his family has spent countless hours at the state park and on the lake over the years and knows that several other legislators have also spent time at Barren River.
“This is a special place. We enjoy it and it's good for our community.”
The state has already spent a little more than $2.1 million in making improvements at the state park, including resolving issues with the state park's electrical system.
“I remember when my tour of duty started we had lost parts of two lodges. One of them due to an electrical fire. This one was high on priority of electrical concerns at that time,” said State Parks Commissioner Donnie Holland.
The reason the condition of Barren River's electrical system was of such concern was due to parts no longer being available to make repairs, he said.
“We spent $485,000 to get that electrical system resolved here and take the danger away,” Holland said.
Other upgrades that were made at that time included the replacement of a boiler, upgrades to the swimming pool at the lodge and upgrades to the villas, he said.
“At 12,700 room nights last year, which is up, I think we are showing some return on the investment that we are making here,” Holland said. “We really think a lot of this park and so we are trying to bring it back to where it was 10 to 15 years ago.”
Funding for the improvements at various state parks, including Barren River, was made possible with the passage of House Bill 268 during the 2019 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly. The new law provides $50 million for infrastructure improvements and upgrades at state parks across the commonwealth.
“Barren River is a prime example of all the great things we have to offer at Kentucky state parks,” Stivers said. “They unite us as citizens and they bring a pride to our communities and we have economic development and impact from them.”
She continued that Gov. Matt Bevin has recognized that fact and dedicated $95 million in spending for state parks during his tenure.
“When he came in he inherited $242 million in deferred maintenance issues, so with the help of the legislature, and we have several from the legislature here with us today, and with Gov. Bevin and with Secretary (Don) Parkinson all leading the way, we have stopped the digging. That is a very good thing. We have made some significant progress,” Stivers said. “But there is a lot of work still to be done. We have safety and infrastructure needs and we have so many things that we need to do make them much better. We do appreciate the General Assembly for all your work in what you are doing.”
She also told state legislators that there are plans to ask for additional funding.
“We will be asking for $100 million. We do have the 100th anniversary of our state parks in 2024 so that will be a huge celebration and we want to just make sure that all of our state parks are improved just like here at Barren River,” she said.
Also on hand for the press conference was Greg Davis, executive director of the Cave City Tourist and Convention Commission.
“I think anytime we can do some improvements to the county and certainly to the state park system it's a great economic engine for our county and for tourism and for the state of Kentucky, so we are grateful for it,” Davis said.
MacLean Lessenberry, executive director of the Glasgow-Barren County Tourist and Convention Commission, said: “I think it's just going to be great to get all of these improvements done before the state park celebration in 2024. I think that will be awesome. I know these are much needed maintenance.”