Missouri State Parks applies for Viney Creek lease

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Warren: 'I believe there's a good possibility it will open'

Viney Creek Recreational Area is tabbed for closure again this year, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has no plans to open it, however, the Corps has seen interest from Missouri state Parks in leasing the area.

The State Parks Department has applied for a lease for the park, and Laurie Driver, public affairs specialist with the Army Corps of Engineers in Little Rock, Ark., said the Corps is reviewing the proposal and hopes to make a decision within the next week.

Steph Deidrick, division information officer for Missouri state Parks, said efforts are underway to open Viney Creek on Memorial Day weekend.

"We are working to meet EPA guidelines in respect to the wastewater system at Vinery Creek Recreational Area," she said.

Barry County Presiding Commissioner Cherry Warren said he is confident it will open, even with all the issues surrounding the area last year.

The park was tabbed for closure in February 2014 after a $500,000 cut to the Corps' budget. However, Missouri State Parks stepped in to lease the property and ran it from May 2014 to September 2014, when it relinquished its lease due to a waste water system at the park, according to a letter sent to the Corps by William Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks.

"While we are appreciative of the support from local residents during our tenure as managers of the Viney Creek Recreation Area, we do not have available funds to make the necessary improvements to the waste water system and bring it into compliance with the new regulations set to go into effect on Oct. 1," the letter said.

At the park is a more-than-30-year-old sand filtration system, and because of new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, it would cost about $50,000 to $100,000 to being the equipment into compliance.

"The treatment plant is a problem, and the county is in no position to lease the park and spend quite a bit of money to fix it," Warren said. "But, we are doing what we can and we believe there is a good possibility Viney Creek will be open this year.

"Viney Creek is a very serene area and I think there's a demand for it to be open, and I'd hate to see it closed."

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