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    Trick-or-treaters stroll the campgrounds at Fort Richardson State Park during last year’s trunk or treat. The popular Halloween season event will be cancelled this year due to a shutdown of camping beginning Sept. 3 and continuing for at least nine months.

State park to close camping for most of year

Fort Richardson State Park will be closing its overnight facilities for at least nine months beginning Sept. 3. 

Park Superintendent Robert Frie said the park’s five camp sites in the equestrian area, the 10 tent-only sites at the north park and the Lost Battalion Dining Hall will remain open and operable during the shutdown, but the remaining 55 camp sites will be unavailable while repairs and upgrades are made to the park’s water system.

Frie said the water and sewer lines, park lift station and sewer manholes will be updated. Some of what is being replaced including the lift station is original to the park’s opening in 1971.

The temporary closure of the park will have an impact on the local economy. Frie said the park averages 48,000 visitors for year with close to 30,000 of those overnight visitors.

“So 75 percent of that, I still say you’re looking at 20 to 25,000 visitors that could be impacted,” he said.

“We’re going to see a lot fewer tourists throughout the year, for sure,” Frie said. “Hopefully, when we open back up, it will be a better facility, more user-friendly.”

Part of the project includes updating and expanding the shower house which is something park users have requested for years.

“With our overcrowding issues, that will make a big impact on visitors,” Frie said. “One of our number one complaints each and every year is that we don’t have enough shower facilities for visitors.”

The park opened in 1971 with 23 campsites with one shower house with a single shower for men and a single shower for women.

“We’re still operating with that original shower facility with more than 70 campsites,” Frie said. “We’ve more than tripled our occupancy, but we have not changed our shower house facility.”

To read the complete article, see the June 12 edition of the Herald-Gazette.

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