MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — If you’re heading to a state park this Labor Day weekend, you might not be relying on Wi-Fi during your trip, but that could be coming to Alabama’s parks.
Voters approved a ballot measure in May letting the state issue bonds up to $85 million for state park upgrades. One of the changes will help keep visitors connected, according to Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Parks Division Director Greg Lein.
“Things like Wi-Fi, yes, we want that in all of our parks,” Lein said.
He says it’s about removing barriers from people picking an Alabama park as their getaway.
“Because families, they come to the parks, they want to bring their kids, and if you can’t stay connected, if the kids can’t get on their games, they’re not interested,” Lein said.
But Wi-Fi won’t be the only change. More cabins, utilities for RVs, bathrooms and better playgrounds are all planned. Most of those projects he expects will take about a year to complete, and not every park will see the same changes.
“There are some settings where the interest by the public is a more day-use interest rather than an overnight interest, so in some settings, adding cabins isn’t a desirable amenity,” Lein said.
Tourism Director Lee Sentell says the state parks are a big boon for tourism. During a conference this week he said he supports the amendment.
“This is going to be to create a bond issue so that our state parks can expand their facilities and therefore we can accommodate more people. So this is a game changer for Alabama state parks,” Sentell said.
Lein says parks have seen a slowdown in visitors this summer, likely because of gas prices, but now that they’re a little lower, he expects this to be a busy weekend.
Lein says the state will sell the bonds in the fall, so the department hasn’t spent anything quite yet.
He expects the renovations will take place over roughly the next three years for the projects that take the longest.