The state of Tennessee has taken a possible first step toward privatizing certain services at Montgomery Bell State Park. The Tennessean reported that Montgomery Bell is on a list of 11 state parks being shopped for contracted hospitality and management services.

State officials and park system overseers are in the early stages of determining the feasibility of “private concessionaires” taking over “certain hospitality operations” relating to the Montgomery Bell State Park inn, restaurant and golf course. State officials sent out what are referred to as requests for information solicitations two weeks ago, seeking “input and interest” from the private vendors for park hospitality services, and consideration of a leasing/concession or management agreement for the park’s assets.

Kelly Brockman, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) communications director, noted in an e-mail last week that TDEC is responsible for offering the “best service for the best value” at state parks.

“The Department of Environment and Conservation has a responsibility to manage Tennessee State Parks and its operations in a way that provides the best service for the best value to Tennessee taxpayers and visitors,” Brockman said in the email. Brockman explained TDEC is “constantly evaluating options for improvement;” and that no decisions will be made without “thorough research and evaluation.”

“We are in the early stages of doing this research to find out whether this option is feasible and in the best interest of the Tennessee State Park system and state,” Brockman wrote.

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