State park will get water upgrades
ALBANY--Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday, May 4, $90 million in revitalization and rehabilitation projects at nearly 50 state parks and historic sites across New York this year. The funding, included in the 2018-19 state budget, will provide $2.6 million for water system upgrades to the Watkins Glen State Park.
"Our world-class parks system attracts millions of New Yorkers and visitors each year, and this ongoing financial commitment will help ensure these jewels remain in good repair for years to come," Cuomo said. "This investment will continue to make much needed improvements and repairs at cherished state parks to promote healthy outdoor recreation, preserve our environment and boost local economies."
The projects are part of the Governor's NY Parks 2020 plan, a multi-year commitment to revitalize the state park system. The governor committed $90 million to the effort in the 2018-19 state budget. To date, the initiative has invested $700 million in 176 parks and historic sites--including installing 76 playgrounds, conserving 14,000 acres of buffer lands, rehabilitating 200 miles of trails, and beginning the building or improvement of 300 cabins and cottages and 30 nature and cultural centers. Fifty-five percent of the funding has been to repair and improve basic infrastructure--sewer, water systems, roads, bridges, culverts, bathrooms, electrical system and internet connectivity. The initiative is also prioritizing the transformation of 31 flagship parks and parks that served communities that lack access to outdoor recreation--these parks serve 80 percent of the system's visitation. In the same period, park visitation has increased 23 percent to 71 million visitors last year. A new progress report, "Building Better Parks," details how the investment is modernizing and transforming the park system.
The announcement came as thousands of New Yorkers prepared to volunteer for the seventh annual I Love My Park Day, held May 5 at state parks, historic sites and public lands across New York. The event, sponsored by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Parks & Trails New York, is a statewide event to enhance parks, historic sites and public lands and raise awareness and visibility to the state's outdoor recreation assets and their needs. Volunteers had the opportunity to participate in clean up events at 135 state parks, historic sites and public lands, including sites operated by the Department of Environmental Conservation, the National Park Service and municipal parks.
In addition to $70 million in construction projects announced, the budget provides $20 million for various system-wide improvements, such as investment in signage, technology, natural resource stewardship--and allocates funding for design of future projects, emergencies, engineering and construction oversight.
Chair of the Assembly Parks and Tourism, Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, said, "Improving our parks system is paramount to providing safe and welcoming spaces that serve millions of New Yorkers a year. Additionally, our state parks boost local economies by encouraging recreational and nature tourism. New York state's parks act as anchors for communities to engage with and learn about our environment, serving countless families and adventurers. The state legislature is taking the challenge of modernizing the oldest park system in the nation very seriously, and we are proud to have passed a budget containing $90 million dollars in funding for nearly 50 state parks this year."