State park fees discriminate against the disabled
Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 1:41 pm

To the Editor:

For several years, I have had an access pass for the state parks. In May, I received notice it was canceled.

I receive Social Security benefits for a work-related injury, of which I am classified as permanently disabled. My doctor filled out a new application I got from the regional office.

I was told it was denied at the pass office even though I am permanently disabled. This new rule is of a discriminatory method toward the disabled. We are being penalized to solve budget problems.

State workers were to lose a day’s pay until that was decided illegal. Several prisons were to be closed, but after lobbying, some will stay open. So now, they go after the disabled.

The average fee we pay each year is about $1,500; after refund about $700 a year. Over the last eight years, we spent about $5,600. All at Higley Flow State Park.

We always reserve only electric sites where there is a daily charge. In the past, there should have been a daily charge on non-electric sites also. I can barely walk with the use of a walker, my travel is very limited. That is why we only got to Higley. It is only 33 miles one way. We reserve in October and November.

About two years ago, a large sign was put up of revitalization. A new shower building was put up, with hi-tech handicap showers. Three new showers handicapped accessible. Now, restrictions to decrease the number of disabled people using the campground.

Taxpayers paid for this building, even disabled ones. You change the rules to make more money, but when the disabled that pay now can’t return, how much will be made on empty sites?

The park is not at or close to full capacity, only on holidays. Even with a discount on the rate, you are making money.

You make none if we aren’t allowed in on our passes. After getting our pass, we bought a better camper and truck to tow it with -- price $35,000 together. Sales tax to the state -- $2,500. We do put money in the state cash box one way or another.

We also couldn’t help keep dealers in business without our passes. I am not looking for freebees. On Social Security, we don’t get big incomes, no cost-of-living increase in two years. When the passes came out, they were to help disabled enjoy the parks at a reduced rate.

Don’t discriminate against us just to solve problems made by others. I was a member of Carpenter’s Local 278 before I was injured. Around 1973, I was a carpenter on the service building at Keewaydin State Park. Now disabled, they change rules to keep out.

When closings of parks came up, it appeared something like this was about to happen. On April 4, we cancelled four of our reservations. I would like to use the rest of them while I can still move.

You have a hard job to do overseeing thousands of acres of park sites. Don’t degrade the parks, denying disabled people a site at a reasonable price. Reinstate our passes.

Gerald A. Peterson, Canton