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Amidst all of the bad news concerning the Florida state budget during the current recession there is a modicum of good news. Cedar Key State Museum Park, along with the other 18 state parks suggested for possible closure last year due to the state budget crisis, has escaped the ax in exchange for an increased entrance fee.
“This fee increase will help keep Florida’s state parks open for residents and visitors to experience while still proving to be one of the most affordable activities in the state,” said Bob Ballard, DEP Deputy Secretary of Land and Recreation in a press release dated June 15.
The entrance fee will double as of July 1. Visitors will pay two dollars instead of one. Children six and under are free.
The proposal to close state parks that did not pay for themselves met with strong opposition. In November the Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter urging the governor to keep the museum open.
The City of Cedar Key passed a resolution in December and sent it to the legislature. City Resolution 293 respectfully requested “that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection allow the Cedar Key Museum to remain open. [I]n these difficult economic times, the City cannot afford to lose any tourist attraction.”
Mayor Sue Colson, acting as city commissioner at the time, said that it was important that the museum stay open. "We are a historical community, and the museum represents that," she said in November. "We are an environmental community and the museum represents that, too.” Colson also noted that “Cedar Key Museum is one of the only major attractions for visitors and locals."
Colson urged residents to call, email or write their state legislators and Gov. Crist to express their concern for the park. "We need that museum," she said. "If enough of us contact them, they'll respond."
Residents in Cedar Key and all over Florida responded and the government listened.
“With state park attendance breaking records and still on the rise, we have heard overwhelming support to keep all state parks open and available to the public,” said Florida Park Service Director Mike Bullock in a press release. "Last year, more than 20 million visitors enjoyed Florida’s state parks . . . contributing more than one billion dollars to Florida’s economy and creating more than 20,000 jobs.”
During fiscal year 2007-08 more than 19,000 visitors visited the Cedar Key State Museum. The museum and exhibits are wheelchair accessible. The museum is open Thursday through Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and Christmas day. For more information about Cedar Key Museum State Park call 352-543-5350 or visit the Website www.floridastateparks.org/cedarkeymuseum.