‘Pay to play’ post causes uproar over Corps of Engineers $5 use fee


Green River Lake made waves last Tuesday when the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that all vehicles parking at the Holmes Bend Recreation Area would now be charged a $5 day-use fee, expanding their $5 launch fee to everyone who uses the recreation area for any purpose.
Frequent visitors could also purchase an annual pass for $40.
The announcement came via the Green River Lake – US Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District Facebook page. The initial post contained a now-removed graphic highlighting which activities would necessitate the day-use fee. The post garnered over 450 comments, – most of them angry – and 1,000 shares, each with their own collection of angry reactions and replies.
In these comments, there were some common complaints. Taxes already fund the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain lake, so why should those going there have to pay extra? Why was it just Holmes Bend? Would this mean there would be improvements or renovations? The conclusion many commenters came to was that they simply would no longer make the trip.
As Adair County magistrate Chris Reeder said in a post sharing the announcement, for many people, “It’s not about the $5, it’s the whole (principle) of it.”
Following the public outcry, the graphic with the post was taken down, and an edit was made saying that it led to “unnecessary confusion” as many believed that the $5 fee was per activity as opposed to per day. It seemed more apparent that the post caused the uproar in the language on the graphic, which shows a boat being launched, a person swimming, a playground and a picnic table, followed by the words, “YOU NOW HAVE TO PAY THE $5.00 DAY-USE FEE.”
Chris Boggs, operations manager of Green River parks with the Corps of Engineers, said it was ultimately out of their control. The fee was implemented due to national regulations, and even the price itself – the $5 – is dictated by those regulations, Boggs said.
“We are required to review our fee schedule every year and if there are other areas where the review indicates we should be charging a fee and we’re not currently… we start charging a fee there. Every year we have to look at the fees we charge and make sure they are comparable and fair compared to (other places) in the region.”
Boggs said the Corps was found to be massively undercharging at Holmes Bend compared to comparable areas in the region according to their fee schedule review. However, he did not indicate if this was a recent development compared to prior annual reviews and – if not – why the fee was slated to go into effect now.
Kelly Caldwell, whose family leases the marina from the Corps of Engineers, found out at the same time everyone else did about the fee. She did clarify that sightseers can drive in the area and not pay the fee. She also stressed that the as operators of the marina, they played no part in the decision to enact the fee nor will they receive any money made through the fee.
The misconceptions come down to the messaging. The graphic in the initial Facebook announcement, with its cartoony visuals, clearly rubbed many commenters the wrong way.
By Kenley Godby

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