LORDA park in the red

Sueann Musick
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County council asked to help financially

PICTOU – An outdoor park in financial trouble will need to come up with a better business plan before it gets any financial assistance from county council

 

County warden Ron Baillie said Monday during a finance committee meeting that the Lansdowne Outdoor Recreational Development Association has a debt of about $40,000 and it has requested funding help from the county.

 

Baillie said he and county CAO Brian Cullen recently met with a board member who told them that park curator David Leese hasn’t been paid in 2013 and the board has maxed out three credit cards in an effort to the keep the park operating.

“He went on to point out that they are just about bankrupt,” Baillie said. “He came to us. He was quick to say the county has helped out many times, but they are in dire straits at the moment. Getting a donation may extend their season, but they may not be able to reopen in the spring.”

 

Cullen said that as of the end of June, LORDA has a net income of $18,000, but this includes some restricted revenue that can only be used for capital purposes, not general revenue expenses. 

 

He said this low revenue, combined with Leese’s pay and the $20,000 in losses so far this year brings the debt to about $40,000. 

 

Baillie said the association is about to pay the interest on the three credit cards it has in its name, but nothing is being paid down on the principle.

 

Coun. Robert Parker said the park’s biggest problem is Leese’s refusal to charge people for the use of the park.

 

“You can’t keep an operation going if you are short on dollars,” he said.  Mr. Leese does a lot of good work out there, but they can’t afford not to charge people. It doesn’t have to be a large amount, but suddenly you have income every day of the week. “

 

Parker said if council does decide to help LORDA, it must put stipulations on how the park is operated, including charging people to use it.

 

Coun. Chester Dewar said he has a problem with any business using credit cards to help keep it operating.

 

“We have to find out what is going on,” he said. “People have been generous, but how many people expected to go without pay.  We are being unkind by feeding the problem. They have to do something about this.”

 

Baillie said the credit card debt equals about $19,000 and if county council granted enough funding to help cover this debt, it still wouldn’t be helping out the park’s cash flow problems.

 

He said the association said in the past that he can’t charge admission because of an agreement worked out with the Department of Natural Resources to stock the pond with fish.

 

However, Baillie said it is time that someone speak to Nova Scotia’s Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker about the issue and see if there can be some kind of resolution to the problem.

 

Coun. David Parker said if the park continues operating as it is, there are only two options in its future. It can cease operations or become a municipal park similar to Trenton Park.

 

“There is no easy answer here,” he said. “What we are discussing tonight is a bandage.  Mr. Leese is having difficulty seeing the big picture.  He likes the model he is operating on, but the model he is operating on is going to lead to bankruptcy.”

 

Coun. Robert Parker suggested that council give LORDA $15,000 in the form a grant, but the board of directors must meet with council first to discuss how the money will be spent and determine if there is a business plan in place for the future.

 

In the end, council passed a motion that LORDA and a few representatives from council meet to review the county’s stipulations and if the terms are met, the issue can come back to council for a grant request.

 

 

Organizations: Lansdowne Outdoor Recreational Development Association, Department of Natural Resources

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Trenton Park

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Recent comments

  • Tired
    July 17, 2013 - 09:17

    The people here that a screaming that this park should be given money and that the every day joe should be ponying up money... I understand where you are coming from, but in this day in age, there is not the disposable money there used to be in many households... and every time you turn around, someone is asking for money - a benefit for someone who is sick, stores asking for a donation for this and that, boot drives, ticket sales, everything... As someone myself who is on a limited budget, I get tired of it... I don't see anyone offering to give me money anywhere. And before you jump to conclusions, I have been working full time hours for several years, but it doesn't mean I have all kinds of money... some months I barely scrape by... unfortunately, this park is going to have to start charging a fee or they will close.

  • hank spitball
    July 17, 2013 - 06:30

    As a taxpayer I don't see why I should be paying off David Leese's credit card debt, everything there he has gotten for free via grants or donations. Time to sell off the assets to pay off the debt an start fresh with a plan that doesn't cost everyone to pay for his private setting.

  • just thinking
    July 16, 2013 - 19:30

    where do you go camping that you do not have to pay how can you keep this park running if there is no charge, and away to many fund raisers on the go everywhere you go there.s someome looking for a donation time to hold a meeting to find out ways to take care of the park

  • Bob in N.S.
    July 16, 2013 - 16:34

    I hope that those against funding to help the disabled and our seniors will keep in mind that unless they have money to spare,most of those who use the LORDA site get money once a month and the lucky ones can manage to stretch this monthly windfall two whole weeks before it runs out. But when these people are up against an uncaring bureaucracy guess who is going to win. We cant have our elected officials handing out money to those in need when it would be better served to give themselves a pat on the back along with another raise could we?.

  • Just one guy with a piece of mind
    July 16, 2013 - 16:20

    Sorry David, to see you in this position. The people of Pictou County and beyond need to realize the importance of this park and the work done at the park.. Don't let em get ya down.

  • Fan of LORDA
    July 16, 2013 - 16:04

    The park was created to give people a beautiful park and give access to a wilderness setting to Seniors and Disabled Persons, allowing them to fish, camp, etc. all FREE OF CHARGE. That is why the park does not charge a cover fee. The park is a non-profit organization that relys on fundraising and donations. The PROBLEM is that people have no problem using the services the park offers, but WILL NOT donate even a dollar in the parks donation box while their there. Everyone loves everything for free, and take things for granted. I think that if the park was to start charging a fee then no one would use the services provided and that would be the end of a wonderful one of a kind park.

  • danny grant
    July 16, 2013 - 12:38

    this is going on year after year we the taxpayers are getting tired of this if we can not keep our businesses going we will ask for government funding .indeed charge a cover fee how can u keep it going if u don't.the working taxpayer is also running out of money if david leese does not know how to run it than by all means close it

  • Laura J. Smith
    July 16, 2013 - 11:43

    ....So sorry about this David............come on Pictou County,,,there is money raised for many other needs here so lets get busy with fund raising events in every P.C. town to keep the park afloat. This park is just too precious to let it sink after all these years. Good luck with it.