MEDICINE PARK_ It's been three weeks since Medicine Park began charging out-of towners a fee to swim at Bath Lake. The town's mayor says it's encouraging people to treat the area better. He says people were tearing up the landscape and leaving trash behind. By charging people two bucks to swim, the mayor says it's made people respect the area a little more, and take pride in keeping it clean. It may also lead to some new features at the lake.
Mayor Dwight Cope says these new charges are providing money to pay for maintenance, litter clean-up, and repairs to damaged property. "Things have gone well, the crowds are a lot more manageable," Cope said. "Seems to be a more family oriented deal. We've gotten some comments from some mothers who say that they feel like they're less intimidated by some of the people that were hanging out down here. Overall it's been a good thing."
The biggest issue was the trash left behind, but now people seem to be taking better care of the area. "When people pay for something they have ownership and they kind of have more responsibility, and help take care of their investment," Cope said.
One local business told us it has hurt their income because some tourists are now going to the lake instead. However, David Groat at the "Rusty Buffalo" disagrees, and says it's been great for the area. "I think most people are in favor of it," Groat said.
Mayor Cope says they've been bringing in about a thousand dollars a week with the new charges. He says all that money pays for maintenance and a security officer. The leftover cash will be put back right into the swimming hole, with some new features, like maybe a floating island, once the savings start adding up.
Medicine Park may eventually offer summer swim passes and family deals, but for now they want to see to see how the individual daily permits work.
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