The Central Coast State Parks Association has received a grant of $53,000 to keep Morro Strand State Beach open.
Mary Golden, executive director of the association, said State Parks Superintendent Nick Franco has recommended the group be given the contract to run the park as well as the grant, which came from the California State Parks Foundation.
“As yet, we have not begun negotiations for an official contract,” she said in a news release.
But “it looks like a go,” she added. “We don’t anticipate that the park will have to close.”
It costs an estimated $280,000 to $300,000 per year to keep the park’s campground open, as well as day-use areas at Azure Street in Morro Bay and 24th Street in Cayucos. The group plans to recoup those fees through a combination of camping fees and donations voluntarily paid by day-use visitors to the beach.
The grant will cover the startup costs of taking over the park. The foundation has also agreed to provide 85 hours of consulting to teach the local group the details of running a park.
The State Parks Association is one of four groups that submitted proposals to take over operation of the park, which was one of 70 earmarked by the state for closure July 1 as a result of the state’s budget shortfall.
The association’s proposal calls for it to operate the park for the next three years, at which time the state’s budget crisis should be resolved and the state can resume operating the park, Golden said.
The grant for Morro Strand State Beach was one of 10 grants totaling nearly $250,000 given this week to various local organizations to keep parks around the state from closing. Two months ago, the group gave grants totaling nearly $330,000 to keep 13 other parks open.