Friday, August 26, 2016 - 3:15pm
Roland Cooper State Park near Camden, Ala., will reopen for the first time in almost a year on September 1, 2016. The park opens under a concessionaire contract with an Arizona based management company, Recreation Resource Management (RRM), Inc. In 2015, Roland Cooper was one of five state parks to close due to budget constraints.
In addition to reopening in time for Labor Day, a grand reopening ceremony will be held at the park on Sunday, September 11, from 3-7 p.m. The theme of the event will be “music in the park.” Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, enjoy the music and meet the new park managers.
“I am very pleased to see the park in my home county reopened and I’m hopeful that many people will continue to enjoy this park for years to come,” said Lt. Governor Kay Ivey. “It is important for the public to vote yes to approve Amendment 2 on November 8, protecting state parks funding and preventing future closures of state parks like Roland Cooper.”
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, a south Alabama native, said he is thrilled to see Roland Cooper reopen.
“Our community is one of the most beautiful in the country, and the river and the fishing are superb,” Sessions said. “I want to express my appreciation to those who have worked together to make this important event happen. A special thanks to the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, N. Gunter Guy, Jr.; State Parks Director, Greg Lein; the City of Camden; and Wilcox County.”
The park will be managed locally by Lynette and Ed Jones, who have managed large campgrounds and recreation areas for RRM, including most recently TVA's Pickwick Dam Campground in Tennessee.
“We are thrilled that this new partnership has allowed for the reopening of Roland Cooper,” said Rob Grant, Assistant Director for Alabama State Parks. “RRM has many years of experience working with state and federal agencies in the operation of parks similar to this one. We are excited to once again offer this resource to all Alabamians and visitors from other states.”
Roland Cooper’s cabins and campground will be available for reservations starting September 1. Currently, the cabins are reservation only and the campground is first-come, first-served. Roland Cooper will begin taking campground reservations later this year. To make cabin reservations, call the park office at 334-682-4838.
While closed, a lack of grounds maintenance left overgrown vegetation throughout the park. RRM along with state and local officials have conducted a substantial clean-up effort in order to prepare the park for its September 1 opening. Oak Mountain State Park’s maintenance crew has been instrumental in that effort. Additionally, staff from Lakepoint State Park and the City of Camden provided much-needed assistance in the park clean-up. The cabin and campground utility systems are also being tested prior to reopening.
“Oak Mountain State Park staff, the City of Camden and Wilcox County all came together to get the job done to assist the RRM team in getting the property ready to open by Labor Day,” said Kelly Ezell, Alabama State Parks Central District Supervisor. “The teamwork and cooperation among these entities has been amazing. The goal since October 2015 has been to get this park reopened to the public. Everyone came together to make it happen.”
Information about Roland Cooper State Park can still be found at alapark.com, but the park’s new online home will be rolandcoopersp.com. Cabin and campground reservations will be available through the new website in the coming months. The park also has a new Facebook page, facebook.com/rolandcoopersp.
Since the 2015 budget crisis that led to the closure of five state parks, Bladon Springs, Florala and Paul M. Grist state parks have reopened under agreements with local municipalities. The Roland Cooper site is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and leased to the Alabama State Parks Division. Under the concession contract, RRM will manage all aspects of the park’s operations except for the golf course. Alabama State Parks hopes to reopen the golf course in the future.
RRM has 25 years of park operations experience and presently manages more than 30 concession contracts covering 125 campgrounds, park stores, marinas, and day use areas in 11 states. RRM has managed sites for the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, California State Parks, Arizona State Parks, and TVA sites including one in Alabama. Its regional headquarters are based in California, Arizona, Minnesota and Florida. For more information about RRM, visit camprrm.com.
The Alabama State Parks Division relies on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations. To learn more about Alabama State Parks, visit www.alapark.com.