Ron Olson's Challenge
"The staff has really done a good job of making old dilapidated things shine," Olson adds. "At Holland State Park, for example, we have a very bad building there with leaky roofs and everything, but they try and keep it up. At certain times water comes down through the ceilings, and it's not real pleasant, but still we have to operate because we can't just close it. But eventually, if things get too bad, you get to the point where it's unsafe or unhealthy, and once that becomes a hazard we'll have to make a tough choice.
"Luckily we haven't had to face that yet-but we're not very far from having to do something like that, unfortunately."
So far, Olson has kept the budget balanced by cutting payroll and raising fees. But those measures can only go so far.
"One problem with the fees is we're bouncing on the ceiling because we're not running a private-country-club type of thing," Olson says. "And I know, for example, at some of these parks we could charge a huge amount of money and there's people who would pay it-but it would leave out a lot of the population because they couldn't afford to come."
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