In an effort to get Palomar Mountain State Park off the closure list, citizens are pitching in financially to keep the park afloat — and it looks like they just might pull it off.
“We’re only $9,000 away from reaching our First Year Pledge target of $60,000,” said Rick Barclay, chairman of the Friends of Palomar State Park Committee. “We kicked off the pledge drive just two weeks ago, but there’ve been a couple of special developments. First, we got a super generous $30,000 matching pledge challenge from a couple in Rancho Santa Fe, Bob and Marion Wilson. If we can raise $30,000 in pledges and donations, they’ll match it.
“Second, we’ve reaped an excellent outpouring of support from other fans all over Southern California and beyond—New York, Hawaii, we even have a couple of pledges from Selkirk, Scotland. That’s how popular this jewel of a park is.”
As of Monday, the committee had $21,000 in pledges and donations.
“That means all we have to do is raise $9,000 more and we’ll meet the $30,000 pledge challenge,” said Barclay. “So as it stands now, we can turn $9,000 into $60,000 — I defy anyone to show me a better deal.”
Palomar Mountain State Park is one of 70 parks slated for closure due to budget cuts. Campgrounds are closed already and the park is currently open for day use only. Full closure is scheduled to take place July 1.
In December, Friends of Palomar submitted a proposal to the Department of State Parks in Sacramento with this offer: If Sacramento will keep the park open, Friends of Palomar will cover the deficit — or “the gap” — between revenue and operating costs to keep the park open, according a statement from Barclay.
“The park brings in a goodly amount of money, just not quite enough to break even,” said Barclay. “It would be shame to close the park just because of a near miss.”
The park would continue to be operated by regular park staff.
“We’re not aiming to run the park,” said Barclay. “We just want to support it financially so that it can continue to be operated by professionals.”
What will $60,000 per year buy?
“A heck of alot, in fact more than what the park’s seen in years,” said Barclay. “For starters, the park will stay open, including the campgrounds re-opened. And that target amount also includes money for performing deferred maintenance, much needed repairs that have been neglected because of the budget cutbacks over the years.”
The lack of an agreement with Sacramento yet hasn’t deterred Friends of Palomar.
“The people in Sacramento haven’t given us a decision, but they have asked questions and at least no one is saying ‘no’, so I take that as a positive sign,” said Barclay. “Our first year target of $60,000 could change, depending on the agreement we eventually work out with Sacramento. People won’t be asked to actually donate unless and until we do reach an agreement. So, right now we’re just asking for pledges of support so that we can hit the ground running if we do work out a deal with State Parks. But until they say ‘no,’ we’re pressing forward.”
Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park is operating as a division of CRSPIA, the nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable association that has been supporting Cuyamaca Rancho State Park since the 1970s and Palomar Mountain State Park since the 1980s. Barclay said that all donations to Friends of Palomar will go to Palomar exclusively.
“Every dollar donated to Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park while under the auspices of CRSPIA will go directly and exclusively towards supporting Palomar Mountain State Park,” he said. “No portion will be used for any other park or for general CRSPIA overhead. Plus, people should know that board members and officers serve without compensation.”
What can people do to help save the park?
“Easy, two things: pledge and publicize,” said Barclay. “Go to our website and pledge online at savepalomar.org. And when you’re done, tell others. It’s that simple.”
Fans of Palomar are invited to visit www.savepalomar.org.