Paterson Announces Plan To Close State Parks

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More than one quarter of the state’s parks and historic sites in New York would close this year under a proposal from Gov. David Paterson to deal with the state’s fiscal woes.

The massive closures of 55 parks and historical sites would hit every area of the state and would be a devastating blow to the state’s cherished parks system, the oldest in the nation with 178 parks and 35 historic sites. Service reductions would be made at an additional 24 facilities.

The proposal comes after Paterson last month proposed lowering aid for state parks by $29 million, a 16 percent cut from the current fiscal year, to deal with an $8.2 billion budget gap.

In the lower Hudson Valley, Wonder Lake State Park in Putnam County and the Donald J. Trump State Park in Westchester County would close.

In Dutchess County, the Golfing season at James Baird State Park and Mills Norrie State Park would be reduced. The Rudd Pond at the Taconic State Park in Dutchess County would close.

The John Boyd Thatcher State Park in Albany County would close, as would the Oquaga Creek State Park in Broome County.

Six parks in the Finger Lakes would close, including Beechwood State Park in Wayne County, the Bonavista State Park in Seneca County, the Chimney Bluffs State Park in Wayne County and the Two Rivers State Park in Tioga County.

The public swimming area at Buttermilk Falls State Park in Tompkins County would close.

In Monroe County, Hamlin Beach State Park swimming would be closed three days a week. The Oak Orchard State Marine Park in Orleans County would close.

Four parks would close in Erie and Niagara counties, including Joseph Davis State Park, the Knox Farm State Park, the Wilson-Tuscarora State Park and Woodlawn Beach State Park.

“In an environment when we have to cut funding to schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and social services, no area of state spending, including parks and historic sites, could be exempt from reductions,” Paterson said in a statement.

“We cannot mortgage our state’s financial future through further gimmicks or avoidance behavior.”

State lawmakers said they would fight to restore funding for parks, which reached record attendance levels last year at nearly 56 million visitors, up by 1.9 million from 2008. The parks represent a major tourism draw across the state, said Assembly Tourism and Parks Committee Chairman Steve Englebright, D-Suffolk County.

He said the state built parks during the Great Depression, not close them.

“I think that there is a real effort to close these parks, coming from the second floor (the governor’s office) and it is going to be a real challenge to stop,” he said.

“I believe that we can do restorations sufficient to keep the parks open, but we’re going to have to have an informed public reaching out to their elected representatives in the state, including and most particularly the governor.”

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6 Comments

  1. Do any of our elected officials in Albany understand that they were elected to work on behalf of the people of this state? Sorry folks, but I don’t see anyone from either side of the aisle stepping up and taking a position that puts the people of New York ahead of self interest. Our governor gives away the contract to the casino at Aquaduct and no one in Albany so much as blinks until the news media jumps in and starts asking embarrassing questions. Shame on our elected officials for proving how the voters can be fooled over and over again.

  2. Why don’t you bunch of leeches that pass yourselves off as State Representatives and Assemblymen and other Over paid politicians, take and give yourselves a pay CUT ! ! !

    This would in fact end this “so called” budget deficit that you have created for (us) the citizen’s of New York to suffer
    with.

    Get your hands out of our pockets, and stop stealing from us and blaming it on everything but yourselves!

  3. Doesn’t these parks make money for the state? I know I buy a $60 empire pass every year to use the boat launches and the camping. What are the expenses of these parks? It would be interesting to find out. I read that over 24000 NYS employees make over 100,000 a year. This is insane on a state that is broke. You know these people get raises every year even though the state is broke. Why don’t we reduce these salaries or let some people go? Just a thought

  4. Another jab to the people in upper new york state.If you haven’t noticed all the increases in fees ( not taxes)has been piled on people that don’t live in the big city. They don’t drive the thruway, hunt, fish, have car registrations,camp or boat trailers. But all these fees have gone up from 20 to 65%.
    All we can do is vote all politicians out including the state representatives. Take the time to look up all their names and VOTE this November. Cut their pay for good.Both Democrats and Republicans.

  5. ….and they have the nerve to send me an email asking to renew my Empire Pass…FOR THE SAME PRICE?!?!?

  6. Governor Paterson is closing 41 state parks in New York state. Keeping them open will cost the state money. This move will kill the state’s economy, and its tourism industry, like it did back in the 1970s, and 1980s.
    Governor David Paterson has punished the state’s tourism industry by taking away places where people can go to, and get away from stress or relax in their daily lives. They are part of quality of life for people who travel in and out of New York State.
    The parks and state historic sites play an important role in New York State. Schools visit them for field trips. Both of them are tourist attractions for New York State.
    NYSDEC, who run the state parks will worry that endangered species will be lost (will become easy targets for hunters and poachers), and state historic sites that are closed will be vandalized, and park closures could worsen quality of life for cities and towns in New York State, where they’re located at.
    If Paterson closes the state parks, and state historic sites, he will take away the visitor economy (only way to save the state money). If he shuts down state historic sites, they will be like ghost towns.
    NYSDEC should punish David Paterson for destroying the state’s wildlife, which are found in State parks he is slated to close.
    Economic impacts on closure of state parks and historic sites could turn small towns into ghost towns (even wiping them off the map).
    When Andrew Cuomo becomes the next state governor, he should raise money to keep state parks, and state historic sites open. These parks are filled with historic artifacts, and countless endangered species.
    If the state parks in New York State were to close, the buildings such as cabins, restrooms, beach houses, a old gift shop, or snack bar, its roof will leak, and that building over the years will be dilapidated, that will take years (or decades) to recover, abandoned trails and campsites will cause erosion, water pollution in nearby lakes and streams, and they will become an easy target for vandals, thieves, and drug dealers