Wracked with budget cuts, Fresno considers outsourcing county parks

Fresno County leaders have begun recruiting outside groups to help run a public park system wracked by budget cuts.

Plans for the Table Mountain Indian tribe to operate Lost Lake Park are back on the table -- after falling prey to controversy two years ago -- and local businesses such as Sun-Maid Growers of California may be asked to help with maintenance at other parks.

County officials say the outreach could culminate with an adopt-a-park program, in which private investment becomes commonplace in the county's 13 parks, from popular Kearney Park with its sports fields and picnic areas to the more rugged Avocado Lake in the foothills.

"We'd put a plaque up that says, 'This park sponsored by XYZ Company,' and the company would provide funds and services," said John Thompson, the county's resources manager who oversees parks. "We're trying to think of everything we possibly can to support the parks."

Parks officials hope to line up several interested parties before going to the Board of Supervisors later this year to approve the partnerships.

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