Budget and Bats: Suwannee River Visitor Center

Regarding when and why the Suwannee River Visitor Center closed, I went to an authoritative source, Bryan Gray, Manager, Stephen Foster State Park (SFSP).

[Ramp (south) end, Suwannee River Visitor Center, 08:25:45, 30.6823112, -82.5600485]
Ramp (south) end, Suwannee River Visitor Center, 08:25:45, https://www.google.com/maps/@30.6823112,-82.5600485,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0

He says it started with budgeting after the recession. Georgia State Parks had to operate more like businesses.

He started at SFSP in 2011, and the Visitor Center closed not long after that.

They tried to operate it in different capacities, such as group meetings, and leasing it.

They tried moving Fargo City Hall into it, including renovating office space, but because of the flooding issue, Fargo did not want to do that.

They tried to get an outfitter to run it, but flooding was an obstacle.

[Map: Suwannee River Visitor Center and Eco-Lodge in WWALS SRWT map]
Map: Suwannee River Visitor Center and Eco-Lodge in WWALS map of the Suwannee River Water Trail (SRWT)

Roughly, 5 to 6 people a week would sign the logbook, not counting the local fisherman only wanting to use the bathroom.

So ultimately, they ended up closing it due to fiscal difficulties.

Over the past 7-8 years they spent $60 to $70,000 trying to abate the bats out of it.

Abating the bats and getting rid of the guano would probably require tearing it down.

Demolition and rebuilding would be less expensive.

So I just looked at an inflation calculator. The $2 million spent in 2004 to build the Center would be more than $3 million today. Plus viable sources of revenue for ongoing maintenance would need to be found.

Now you know.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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