Lyons Ferry Park operators to pull out

The Port of Columbia has given notice it can no longer manage the park after the operators gave notice of their own.

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DAYTON -- The Port of Columbia notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday that the Port is no longer able to operate the Lyons Ferry Park on the north side of the Snake River.

The decision came after Jim and Angela McArthur, who operate the park along with Lyons Ferry Marina, gave the Port 60 days notice that they would no longer operate the park.

Port Manager Jennie Dickinson said this morning she was surprised and stunned by the McArthur's decision, but "even with a $25,000 subsidy they still lost $17,000. It has about $15,000 in income, and it costs about $45,000 to run it, bare bones," she said.

The park is under the jurisdiction of the Corps, and the agency's process for making improvements is very cumbersome. Permission to put up a sign requires approval by a number of departments, Dickinson said, which is very time-consuming.

The park was formerly operated as a state park, but the state decided to end its involvement as a money-saving measure several years ago.

The park has a day use area and a campground, but the campground needs a lot of upgrades to be viable, Dickinson said. There are no electrical hook-ups, which deters recreational vehicles from using the park during the summer months.

"Everything is working against that being a popular place to camp in the peak recreation season," Dickinson said.

"I am crushed. The park is very important to me, and I believe it is a diamond in the rough," she said. However, she said the Port commissioners and the Port of Kahlotus are not supportive of continuing to operate the park.

Port commissioners will consider Wednesday amending their proposed budget to add $45,000 to operate the park next year, if the Corps holds the Port to their lease agreement requiring one year's notice for ending the lease.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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