Monday, November 7, 2011

Privatizing Public Parks?

Article here.  Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) has rolled out a new plan to privatize some of New Jersey's public parks.  The plan is said to generate more revenue for the parks, but it will also raise some of the fees charged to patrons of the park. 

Privatizing parks raises several concerns. Some are concerned with a McDonald's being built in the middle of a park, which would defeat the purpose of going to a park to escape the city and relax in nature. Another concern would be having a park renamed after a special interest group or company that pays for the advertising; there is also the possibility of having to pay a fee to enter into a public park, in the future. Commissioner Bob Martin of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection has said that these things would not happen during this particular plan. Let's hope the contract, and future contracts, enforce these promises. In all, there are still many issues to consider about integrating private entities with public parks and the future of "public" parks.

In the private sector, "cutting out the middleman" is a traditional cost-saving measure, but outsourcing involves inserting a middleman between the state and the workers operating and maintaining the parts - and thus would seem, at least eventually, to work in the opposite direction of cost-cutting, despite the promises of contact bidders at the time of the privatization decision.

2 comments:

  1. If the Occupy Wall Street protestors keep it up, park privatization may begin to look appetizing to some cities.

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  2. Your comment brings up a good question. If a private entity owns a public park, are they allowed to keep out anyone they want? Can they have the same motto, "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone," as a private business? In addition, would a park change from a traditional public forum, therefore losing the strict scrutiny standard in deciphering whether a regulation is unconstitutional because there is no longer government action?

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