By John Raffel
Osceola County Parks and Recreation Director Carl Baumgras realizes that spring is practically here. So do users of the county’s two parks Crittenden and Rose Lake.
“April 10 is when our workers get in,” he said, pointing to actual season dates of from May 12 to Oct. 1 of this year.
It would seem a relatively mild winter would have the parks in ready-to-go shape.
“Crittenden is not a problem,” Baumgras said. “Rose Lake gets a lot of debris. We do leave cleanup. Lot of twigs and brush and everything like that will have to be cleaned up. It takes us about a month to get everything put back together. There is work to do.”
Offseason activity involves behind the scenes work.
“We do a lot of grant work,” Baumgras said. “I’m retired from state government. I worked with parks and recreation all my life. I’m 72 now and busy doing something. It’s part-time. I probably put in a full-time schedule the April through October season. It seems like it’s become more demanding because we’re involved in so many things.
“We had the best year we’ve ever had. We made more money than we’ve ever made. We invest that right back into the park. Based on reservations right now, looks like we’re on target for a very good year. On Jan. 1, we start taking reservations for the next year. This year, we had 142 calls in that time frame. We’re looking at a super season again. Of course, weather can change and things can happen.”
Upgrades at some of the various sites has been a key reason for the successes, Baumgras indicated. “We have excellent managers that have done a good job building their customer base. People will come back if they’re happy. We also have some of the lowest rates for camping. We’re a bargain.”