$900 Million to be Invested in State Parks Through 2020

$900 Million to be Invested in State Parks Through 2020

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled a seven-point framework of the NY Parks 2020 Plan that will leverage approximately $900 million in public and private funding to modernize the State park system. NY Parks 2020 was previewed in the Governor’s Opportunity Agenda. The plan is part of a multi-year commitment since 2011 to restore facilities, enhance visitor experience, update signage and create better access for tourists at parks across the State. The 2015-16 Executive Budget adds $110 million toward this initiative.

“New York State is home to some of the best outdoor recreation areas in the nation – and this investment will help maintain them in peak condition and enhance the experience for all of our park’s visitors,” Governor Cuomo said. “The NY Parks 2020 plan is building on our State’s recent success in developing our parks and historic sites into local economic engines, and it will position New York State as a top recreation destination for years to come.”

The NY Parks 2020 plan was unveiled by Commissioner Rose Harvey of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation at Saratoga Spa State Park today, where the Governor has already directed more than $7 million to improve the National Historic Landmark and flagship State Park in the Capital Region. The investment is making possible a diverse range of projects at the Saratoga Spa State Park– including newly paved trails; restored picnic pavilions; improvements of the Victoria Pool complex; a new playground; a more sustainable upgrade of the Saratoga Performing Arts gateway and preservation of the historic Lincoln and Roosevelt Bathhouses.

This multi-year NY Parks 2020 plan will modernize and bring state parks to 21st century standards by:

Making comprehensive investments in the State’s most popular flagship parks such as Saratoga Spa, Niagara Falls and Jones Beach to ensure they remain relevant throughout the 21st Century;
Targeting investments to projects that promote healthy, active outdoor recreation;
Ensuring people from all walks of life have opportunities to connect with parks;
Replacing well used but worn out public use facilities and critical infrastructure that have been neglected too long;
Preserving historic sites and cultural assets;
Ensuring proper stewardship of some of the State’s most unique ecosystems, including making them more resilient to extreme weather; and
Leveraging the tourism impact of State Parks to energize local economies.
The plan lays out the framework for how State Parks will achieve these seven strategic priorities, including:

Build and improve new recreational facilities such as playgrounds, athletic fields and swimming facilities;
Open underutilized parkland and reconnect children to the outdoors by building new nature centers;
Modernize and refurbish campgrounds and cabins, bathhouses, contact stations and picnic pavilions;
Preserve and improve historic buildings by repairing roofs and windows and restoring historic stonework;
Undertake projects that prevent the invasive species, improve storm resiliency and implement energy efficiency initiatives that make state parks a model of sustainability; and
Develop partnerships that enhance visitor services such as restaurants and cultural facilities and host more recreational and cultural events that promote New York’s tourism assets.

The NY Parks 2020 plan is available here.

State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “Governor Cuomo has been the leading advocate for the New York State Park system – transforming it into one that is more relevant to the 21st Century visitor, with modern facilities, richer programs and better access for all. The NY Parks 2020 plan outlines the State’s vision for fixing and restoring the aged infrastructure but also transforming the parks in a smart and thoughtful way, one that is welcoming to all park visitors, geographically balanced, resilient and sustainable.”

Executive Director of Parks & Trails New York Robin Dropkin said, “New York’s state parks and historic sites are its crown jewels. Governor Cuomo’s unprecedented multi-year commitment to our magnificent state park system has set in motion a remarkable park renaissance, one that has not been seen in our time. Surely, this will be one of the most enduring legacies this administration leaves to the next generation of New Yorkers.”

Executive Director of the Open Space Institute’s Alliance for New York State Parks Program Erik Kulleseid said, “Thanks to Governor Cuomo, New York’s state parks are on a huge upswing! NY Parks 2020 guarantees our greatest natural treasures will be sources of pride, community vitality and economic strength for the next generation of New Yorkers. It is exciting to know that the investment trajectory will be maintained and that our parks will continue to be restored to the magnificence befitting the Empire State and its citizens.”

In 2010, the year before the Governor took office, 88 parks were threatened with closure. Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has reversed this trend by leading a multi-year transformation of New York’s outdoor resources. Between 2010 and 2014 the Governor advanced 279 park improvement projects at 109 parks and historic sites.

With over 62 million visitors in 2014, State Park attendance is at historic levels and continuing to grow, having increased 8 percent since the Governor took office.

Author: Harlem Valley News