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State Reps. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill, and Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, today expressed their frustration following the recent announcement by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department that state-owned parks would now begin charging parking fees.
“I was extremely disappointed and downright insulted by the answers I received today from Director Winchester on park fees,” Hardin said, “I believe the fees should be put on hold until Tourism corrects the reservation fraud going on and local representation has the opportunity to voice their concerns. Apparently people are making large profits on reservations they make and then resell. The fraud and the proposed fees are taking away the ability of local people to enjoy their state parks.”
“With the approach of summer and many Oklahomans making plans to visit our state parks, I was discouraged to hear about this new policy implemented by the Tourism Department,” Townley said. “My district and many other areas of Eastern Oklahoma have a significant tourism industry thanks to the state parks in our area, and constituents and business owners who rely on a steady stream of tourists have expressed concern regarding the potential reduction of visitors. I hope the Tourism Department will reconsider this new policy and continue to allow Oklahomans to access state-owned parks, which were built with their taxpayer dollars, for free.”
Hardin’s district, House District 49, is home to Lake Murray and Lake Texoma. Townley represents the neighboring House District 48 and said her constituents who frequent Lake Murray are frustrated with the new system, which allows scalpers to reserve multiple parking places and receive a refund when the spaces are not reserved. Townley said as a result, the spaces are left empty over the weekend but locals are not able to claim an empty spot and reserve it afterward.