Ventura County eyes ways to keep McGrath Beach open to public


The problem begins at the bathrooms. The state can't afford the $500,000 to fix the rusting pipe that goes to the waste water treatment plant.

The state park has about 650,000 visitors a year, but faces indefinite closure in September because the state doesn't have the money for maintenance work.

"This is where my friends and I and family have been going for almost 27 years," said camper Mary Schmidl. "This is our vacation home, we camp here every year."

"It's very upsetting," said camper Darcy Gil. "We really enjoy camping. As a family it's an activity we can do that's inexpensive- it's affordable, it's fun, it's outdoors, it teaches our kids a lot of things."

Ideas are being floated, including having the county lease the park from the state and recouping the repair costs from visitor fees.

Thousands of people who have made memories there are posting signs and even designing a Facebook page dedicated to voting in Coca Cola's "America's Favorite Park" contest.

"The way I see it is that the sewer is going to have to be repaired regardless if the park stays open or not," said Christopher Culver, who started the Facebook campaign.

That contest ends Sept. 6, the day the park is scheduled to close. The winning park gets $100,000. So far, McGrath is in seventh place.

And it's not just at the grass roots level. Ventura County Supervisor John Zaragoza is also trying to work out an agreement with the state to keep the park open through the summer until the county can work out a lease to save it indefinitely.

The funding would come from camping fees.

"It's like having a house, and you move out and nobody moves into the house for 15 years, it will deteriorate," said Zaragoza.

"Camping is something that everyone should experience," said camper Ted Williams. "It's just fun to go outdoors and play sports and play cards at night or sit by the camp fire. So when they close places like these, it's just disappointing."

And if that happens, there will be one less natural respite and countless fewer memories.

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