Schodack Island access curtailed
State budget cuts close Rensselaer County park until April
By KENNETH C. CROWE II, Staff writer
Last updated: 7:26 a.m., Tuesday, October 7, 2008
SCHODACK — Schodack Island State Park will close next week for six months as part of a 10 percent cut in the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation budget.
"The gate will be locked. The buildings will be closed,'' Bob Kuehn, assistant regional director of the Saratoga-Capital District Park Region, said Monday. He said the action is in response to Gov. David Paterson's directive to make buget cuts
Schodack Island State Park will shut after the upcoming Columbus Day holiday weekend. It is not expected to reopen until after April 1, which is the start of the state's next fiscal year.
It's the only Capital Region park that is closing completely and one of three statewide. The other parks shutting down are Woodlawn and Silver Lake in the western park of the state.
Rensselaer County Legislators Martin Reid, R-Sand Lake, and Alex Shannon, R-Schodack, said closing Schodack Island is unfair to Capital Region residents.
"In our view, Schodack Island State Park offers residents important access points to the river and is operated at a relatively small cost when compared to other parks,'' said County Legislator Martin Reid, R-Sand Lake. The park is in both Reid's and Shannon's districts.
"We believe the state could have gone about this in a different manner and found solutions to keep the park open,'' Reid continued.
Decisions on where to make budget cuts were left up to the parks department's 11 regions. Of $9 million cut from the parks department budget, $4 million was directly related to park operations and the rest from delaying equipment purchases and projects plus not filling vacancies, said Eileen Larrabee, a department spokeswoman. The Saratoga-Capital District Region cut $225,000 in park services.
"We're trying to minimize the impact on the public. ... There are realities we have to deal with,'' Larrabee said.
Kuehn said the campgrounds at Cherry Plain State Park in Berlin and Max V. Shaul State Park in Schoharie County were closed early and the hours at the state boat ramp on Saratoga Lake, part of Saratoga Spa State Park, were reduced to weekends after Labor Day.