The city of Mulberry recently started charging visitors a $3 user fee at Bluff Hole Park and Vine Prairie Park. Residents are not happy about the fee.
Rubecca Parker and her family started swimming at Bluff Hole Park in Mulberry years ago. “We come every week,” said Parker, “We’ve been rafting in the boat, swimming.”
A sign at the entrance of the park lets visitors know they must pay $3 per vehicle. “The only way we could keep this open was to charge, to charge a fee,” said Mulberry Mayor Gary Baxter.
Baxter confirms the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could not afford to keep the park open. The city did not want the park shut down, so they signed a lease. “The days of being able to afford something free like this is almost over,” said Baxter.
The mayor says Mulberry must maintain the park and to do that they must charge visitors.
“Where I’m from you don’t have to pay,” said John Zucci, a visitor. “You just go to the park, enjoy yourself, and swim. You shouldn’t have to pay,” he said.
Regulars are upset about the upcharge, but want the park to stay open. “That would be bad,” said Parker. “I mean really ‘cause this is about the best thing in Mulberry we have.”
The city says if they do not generate enough revenue from the fee, they may have to turn the park back over to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Baxter says the city plans to open a new park that will be free of charge.