Friday, March 11, 2011
More cuts for NYS Parks
Officials: Less money, but no ax for state parks (with video)
Published: Wednesday, March 09, 2011
By PAUL POST
SARATOGA SPRINGS — State parks will have even less money for much-needed repairs this year, but at least there’s no danger of sites closing, officials said Wednesday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget calls for a 10 percent — $17.7 million — reduction in parks spending, coming on the heels of a similar-sized cut last year.
Only $25 million is allocated statewide for capital projects, for a system that has more than $1 billion worth of needed repairs and infrastructure improvements pending.
“We’ve got to do more with less,” said Heather Mabee, Saratoga-Capital District Regional Parks Commission chair. “As long as there’s no further reductions we think statewide we can keep all of our parks and historic sites open. As far as we understand from the governor, there should not be any more staffing reductions.”
The commission met Wednesday at Saratoga Spa State Park with regional state parks leaders. The Saratoga-Capital region has 10 parks and 10 historic sites.
Last year, some parks — such as John Boyd Thacher Park in the Heldebergs — were temporarily closed because of the state’s dire fiscal condition, forcing the cancelation of many events and private functions such as weddings. Despite this, attendance at Saratoga-Capital parks and historic sites rose 16 percent, the most of any region in the state.
Officials attributed this to good weather compared to the rainy summer of 2009, an economy that kept people close to home and strong support from “friends” groups at several state parks.
Assistant Regional Commissioner Robert Kuhn said there are no major state-funded capital projects slated for Saratoga Spa State Park this year. However, fundraising has made new walks, steps and interpretive signage possible at the park’s Geyser Springs area. A ribbon-cutting is slated for Tuesday, May 24.
Elsewhere, plans call for replacing old bathhouses and showers at Thompson’s Lake in East Berne and increasing the number of campsites from 20 to 30 at Cherry Plain State Park. Continued...