Nixon defends exploring state-county parks option with St. Louis County

Nov 22, 2011

Governor Jay Nixon (D) is defending his decision to explore the possibility of the state jointly running several county parks in St. Louis County that are being targeted for closure.

The parks in question include Lone Elk Park in West County, home to wild elk, turkey, deer and buffalo.  State Senator Jim Lembke (R, Lemay) is questioning whether the governor has the authority to enter into such an agreement.

“The governor certainly doesn’t have unilateral authority to appropriate money, that’s the sphere of the legislative branch," Lembke said.  "It certainly is appropriate to have the discussion, but to make any kind of promises as far as resources certainly isn’t the governor’s place.”

Lembke adds that the state is facing a half-billion-dollar budget shortfall next year.  But the governor says there’s nothing wrong with discussing options.

“Missourians really, really appreciate their parks and outdoors," Nixon said.  "When we see risks or challenges to lessening that footprint for people to recreate outdoors, we’re gonna step in and see if there’s ways that we can work through that."

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley (D) has proposed closing 23 parks and cutting over 130 jobs within the county’s parks system.