The closing of a catfish restaurant near White Oak Creek Park in Eufaula two years ago gave mayor Jack Tibbs an idea. "I noticed that a couple of businesses had closed," said Tibbs.
First, the background.
The restaurant closed because the U.S. Corps of Engineers started closing the park during the winter months due to cutback in federal funds. A closed park meant no visitors. No visitors, no business.
The mayor and the city negotiated an agreement with the corps, a deal reached early this week for Eufaula to maintain the national park and keep it open from October through March. Mayor Tibbs says they'll use city maintenance crews to maintain the 100 acre park.
Little did Tibbs know two days later the federal government would come to a grinding halt over budget issues. The shutdown does not impact the deal reached between Eufaula and the Corps of Engineers.
"We started working on this about two months ago so we would be prepared for the seasonal shutdown, so I guess we are looking pretty good right now considering this is the only park that is open right now in the United States," said Tibbs.
The park is located just outside the Eufaula city limits which meant the city had to get a favorable 'opinion' from Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.
White Oak Creek Park averages around 10,000 visitors a year. Mayor Tibbs says what he and the city just made sense.
"We have over a hundred campsites here so it's like having another hundred families who eat at our restaurants and play on our golf courses," said the mayor.
So beginning today White Oak Creek Park is open to campers and RVers alike but too late for the catfish restaurant on the hill.