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Two parks merge into geopark

(ran LA edition of LT)

The signs welcoming visitors still will say Honeymoon Island State Park and Caladesi Island State Park.

But to park service officials, the two islands will have a new designation _ the Gulf Islands Geopark.

The merger is part of an effort of the Florida Park Service to operate parks more efficiently and perhaps save money. The Gulf Islands Geopark off the Pinellas coast will be the seventh combination park in the state.

"We just feel in some situations it's a more efficient way to operate park units that are near each other geographically," said Rosie Keween, a park service spokeswoman. "It allows us to really combine and share the resources that we have."

One change the public might notice is that Jack Chamberlain, who took over the management of Honeymoon Island State Park in early 1992, has retired.

The two parks, or rather the new geopark, are being managed by Willie Cutts, who previously was manager of Caladesi Island State Park.

Together the two state parks have 30 employees and a budget of about $150,000.

Cutts said he hopes the new arrangement will help the operation of both parks.

"We now have a freer hand in utilizing the personnel and equipment where it is needed," Cutts said.