CARROLLTON, Ky. — Gov. Matt Bevin joined Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and Kentucky State Parks officials on Friday at General Butler State Park to announce the kickoff of phase II of the Commonwealth’s “Refreshing the Finest” initiative.
Launched in 2016, “Refreshing the Finest” has already invested $18 million in maintenance and operational improvements to the Kentucky State Parks system. The 2018 General Assembly allocated an additional $20 million to replace park lodge roofs, upgrade campgrounds, repair wastewater treatment plants, fix swimming pools and make other much-needed facility repairs.
“We are excited today to announce the second phase of our ambitious ‘Refreshing the Finest’ initiative,” said Gov. Bevin. “Kentucky’s state parks are a true gem, and we are dusting them off so that they will once again sparkle and shine. This additional $20 million investment will facilitate upgrades to provide park patrons with first-class opportunities to experience the Commonwealth’s unparalleled natural beauty and history.”
As a result of the initial $18 million “Refreshing the Finest” investment, some 133 projects are nearly complete. The improvements have helped to significantly increase business among Kentucky’s state parks, yielding a $7.6 million revenue boost in 2018 compared to 2016.
“The projects we’ve completed at our state parks are showing a return on investment,” said Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Don Parkinson. “We have many aging park buildings, and this additional funding is needed to keep them open and operational.”
“This additional funding will help us maintain important parts of the park infrastructure,” said Kentucky State Parks Commissioner Donnie Holland. “With 49 state parks and 1,800 buildings, we have a long list of repairs and upgrades.”
The projects planned through phase II of “Refreshing the Finest” include new roofs at Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park, Barren River Lake State Resort Park, Rough River Dam State Resort Park, and Jenny Wiley State Resort Park. Repairs of walls, windows and roofing are also planned at John James Audubon State Park.
Utility improvements are planned at Pine Mountain State Resort Park, Lake Barkley State Resort Park, and Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park. Campgrounds improvements are planned at Barren River Lake, General Burnside State Park, Carter Caves State Resort Park, Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park, and Lake Cumberland.
All 17 resort parks will receive hospitality upgrades that include items such as new furniture, flooring, paint, fixtures and paint.
State legislators representing the General Butler State Park region applauded today’s announcement.
“I have had the privilege of staying at each one of our beautiful state parks here in the Commonwealth, and certainly, we have one of the best state park systems in the country,” said Sen. Paul Hornback. “Thank you to Governor Bevin and the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet for their continued dedication to the maintenance and modernization of these properties.”
“Our state parks are vitally important to our tourism industry as well as our overall economy, and they preserve and promote some of Kentucky’s most precious natural resources,” said Rep. Rick Rand. “I’m certainly happy to see us take these steps to improve our state parks.”