KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — This is what happened during the meeting to discuss the proposed parking fee for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The meeting was held virtually at 5 p.m. on April 14. During the meeting representatives from the park discussed the proposal for a parking fee, increasing other fees, history, and answered questions from viewers.
Cassius Cash, superintendent of the park, stated that their main focus for this program is to put money into the park so it can be enjoyed for generations.
Cash and Spokeswoman Dana Soehn explained that one of their main priorities when making the proposal was to make sure the price would not make the park inaccessible to people. They wanted to make sure people of any income could enjoy the park.
Questions that were answered:
Will there be a discount rate for locals? There will not be a discount but, the annual pass was created with locals in mind. Locals are typically the ones who visit the park the most frequently so that’s why the annual option would be offered.
Can a family buy one parking pass and use it for any vehicle? They said that is still something they are working on and are willing to adjust it to see what best meet people’s needs.
Will the parking pass help with traffic? The parking pass itself will not help diminish traffic. The passes will not be limited, or capped. The revenue generated from the passes will give resources to continue to try to implement congestion elimination processes around the parks busiest sites.
Will people with “America the Beautiful” passes get a discount? America the beautiful passes give discounts for entrance fees, so they are looking closely to see if those and other passes like them can be used for the parking pass.
What will the money go to? All revenue from these fees will stay 100% in the park. Some main focuses are getting more law enforcement and maintenance staff, bathroom cleaning, trash pickup, emergency services, infrastructure and more.
Is the tag required for all parking lots? Roadside parking will no longer be permitted. So all parking areas at the park will require a pass.
If this proposal is passed will the price remain the same forever? All parks are encouraged to review their plan annually and make sure the fees are meeting the operational needs appropriately. So they will be looked at every year.
For more information on the parking proposal visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website here.