Mine Kill Park cuts fees to aid public
Thursday, July 2, 2009
By Edward Munger Jr. (Contact)
NORTH BLENHEIM — While some parks increased fees in the face of budget cuts this year, the cost of a day at Mine Kill State Park in Schoharie County is going down.
Park Manager Brian Strasavich said officials agreed to lower costs to ensure families can enjoy nice things even when times are tough. “The way the economy is and everything, it really just made sense,” Strasavich said Monday during a tour of the 650-acre park tucked in the rolling Catskill foothills alongside the Schoharie Creek.
Roughly 45,000 people visit the park year-round to picnic, swim in three swimming pools or buzz along the waters of the New York Power Authority’s lower reservoir.
The park, which opened this past weekend, has already drawn guests from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Brooklyn and Italy, according to a guest book at the top of the small trail leading to the Mine Kill Falls overlook.
“It’s awesome,” said Carol Jacobs of Rhinebeck, who noticed the Mine Kill Park sign while driving south on state Route 30 Monday. Jacobs was checking if there was anything at the park she might bring her grandchildren to see.
After a peaceful walk down an elaborate stair system with several overlook decks, Jacobs decided she’ll be back. “I didn’t know it was here.”
Last year, guests paid $6 per car to enter. That fee was cut to $3. Renting the pavilion for group outings cost $75 last year, now it’s $50.
Strasavich said reservations for the pavilion were “blown out” after the rate cut.
Using the pools costs $2 for adults and $1 for youth, and that includes swimming lessons when available.
The bath house and locker rooms were renovated during the off-season, and staff added a new self-guided nature trail with signs identifying unique features.
The nature trail has been added to a new trail map for the park that features its own hiking trails and a segment of the Long Path Northern Excursion, an 80-mile trek that extends from the Schoharie Reservoir to Thacher State Park in Albany County. About 8 miles of trails are on the site, which is popular among mountain bikers and hikers, Strasavich said.
A half-dozen youths participating in the Schoharie County Youth Bureau’s summer adventure program were using the pavilion Monday to learn back-country camping skills.
The park’s natural setting makes for an ideal learning site, said George McDonnell, a program coordinator at the Schoharie County Youth Bureau.
“This is exactly what we wanted. Everything’s here,” McDonnell said.
Strasavich, an avid hiker who studied recreation, adventure travel and eco-tourism at Paul Smiths College in the Adirondacks, has managed Mine Kill, with a staff of about 50 in the summer, for two years.
“It’s my dream job.”
The day use park is open year-round, with snow shoeing, skiing and hiking.
Strasavich said overnight campers at the Max V. Shaul State Park, situated 10 miles north on Route 30, can use the Mine Kill Park for free.
Information on the park can be found at www.nysparks.state.ny.us.