ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) - Release: Wednesday, the Senate Majority andadvocates stood together in support of State Parks.
On Monday, the Majority Conference unanimously voted for abudget resolution which restored all $11.5 million of theGovernor’s budget cuts to parks operations. If enacted, thecut would have resulted in the closure of 57 State Parks andreduced operations at an additional 22 State Parks.
The use of parks for recreational activities generates $1.9billion in revenue, five times the agency’s total budget. Theclosure of these parks would have a devastating effect on smallbusinesses, restaurants, and other economic engines in communitieswho are largely based around the tourism revenue generated by theseparks.
Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said,“State Parks are part of our history and our future. They arethe economic engine that drives our tourism industry. We need afair and responsible budget, and cutting our parks is neither afair or responsible solution to the fiscal crisis. While SenateRepublicans claim they support our parks, but refuse to vote forthem, the Senate Majority kept its promise to our parks and thefamilies who enjoy them.”
Senator Jose Serrano (D-Bronx/Manhattan), Chair of the SenateCommittee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation said,"The people of New York have spoken with a clear and united voice -they do not want their State Parks to close. Not only are parks asound source of revenue by generating $5 for every $1 invested bythe state, but they also help to improve our quality of lifethrough the enriching programs and recreational opportunities theyprovide. I am proud to stand beside State Parks advocates and mycolleagues to prevent unprecedented parks closings."
Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D/WF–35th District) said,“Our State parks and historic sites are importantenvironmental, cultural and recreational components of our economy.The beautiful sites that commemorate our history, and all that ourparks have to offer are treasures that we must preserve and protectin a responsible manner. From a purely economic standpoint, NewYork's State Park system generates $1.9 billion in economicactivity, five times the Agency's total budget. The restoration ofthis funding is a sensible approach for overcoming our fiscalchallenges.”
Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) said, "I've been proud tolead the effort to save state parks on Long Island and across NewYork State. During these tough economic times, familiesincreasingly rely on our parks for affordable, safe, andfamily-friendly recreation close to home. Our commitment to fullyrestoring parks funding will save state parks and preserve them forchildren and families for generations to come."
Senator Darrel J. Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent) said, “Theparks and historic sites in my region are a $60 to $70 millioneconomic engine and we cannot afford to lose this economic impact.We are moving forward and well on our way to ensuring that theseparks and historic sites remain open. We need to continue workingtogether, regardless of party lines, to stand up and support thesmall businesses that depend on these parks and historic sites todraw in visitors.”
State Parks facts:
· Over the past two years, State Parks have been cut by $46million, which equates to 25% of the agency’s operatingbudget.
· 85% of the agency’s operating budget goes directlytoward operating New York’s 213 State Parks and HistoricSites.
· The agency has already eliminated 1,000 permanentseasonal workers.
· Last year’s budget cuts resulted in servicereductions at 100 State Parks and Historic Sites (shortened seasonsand reduced hours of operation).
· State Parks received 56 million visitors in 2009, anincrease of 1.9 million visitors from 2008.
State Parks provide affordable, close to home recreationalopportunities to more than 56 million people each year.
Park revenues account for a third of the Office of Parks,Recreation and Historic Preservation’s (OPRHP) operatingbudget.
State Parks account for only one quarter of 1% of the overallstate budget.
Senator Antoine M. Thompson (D-parts of Erie and Niagaracounties) said, "Our parks are an asset to the people of New YorkState. They are used for recreation and tourism and we have to doanything in our power to save them."
Senator José Peralta (D-Queens) said, “Parks andhistoric sites are an efficient contributor to our state’seconomy and also provide families with affordable recreation thatthey are looking for right now. In rejecting the Governor’sproposal to cut funding and close State parks and historic sites,the Senate Majority is preserving not only State treasures, butjobs for New Yorker’s in an extremely difficulteconomy.”
Senator Neil D. Breslin (D-Albany) said, “Restoringfunding to Parks will save the recreational environment that manyNew Yorker’s depend on. Thatcher Park is one of the mostprecious resources in my district that provide trails for summerhiking, mountain biking and fields for children to play. It
isimportant that we protect and preserve Thacher Park to give allfamilies a place for recreation, education and cultural enrichment.I commend Senator Sampson for his leadership and support for Publicparks.”
Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said, “It seems rathersimple to me: you can’t say that you support parks and thenvote against parks. This is one of the most difficult budgets, Ibelieve, that any of us in the Legislature has had to balance. Butby listening to New Yorkers’ values and priorities, we wereable to responsibly manage reductions to obtain a balanced budgetwhich protects our parks. It is precisely in times such as these inwhich people utilize parks and historic sites as a means foraffordable recreation for their families. We have a commitment tonot turn our backs on our people or our parks."
Senator Diane J. Savino (D- Staten Island/Brooklyn) said, "Theeconomic benefits that our state parks and historic sites generate,including jobs, tourism, and customers for local businesses, vastlyoutweigh our minimal investment. Furthermore, at a time whenobesity rates are skyrocketing, New Yorkers cannot afford to loseany free or affordable exercise and recreationalactivities.”
Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) said, “Our parks arethe crown jewels of New York State. These state parks and historicsites are important not just for the recreation they provide, butare a critical component of our tourism industry, contribute to ourquality of life and promote regional economic well being. TheSenate Democratic majority has fought to save our parks, and as wemove through the final stages of budget negotiations, I implore mycolleagues in the Legislature to leave politics aside, and to worktogether to make sure that the end product of this budget protectsour parks.”
Albert E. Caccese, Executive Director of Audubon New York, and28 year veteran of the Office of Parks, Recreation and HistoricPreservation Executive Staff said, “Our State Parks arecritically important economic engines that support local economiesand an ever growing ecotourism industry, providing billions inrevenue to the state each year. Closing Parks and cutting theEnvironmental Protection Fund is the wrong choice and will onlyfurther compound and prolong the economic woes facing the state. Weapplaud the New York State Senate for leading the charge to keepour Parks open and protect the EPF, and urge the Assembly and theGovernor to join with them in supporting these importantrestorations in this year’s budget.”
Shawn McConnell, Campaign for Parks Director, Parks & TrailsNY said, “Thanks to the members of the Senate who passedtheir budget resolution Monday, New Yorkers across the state are astep closer to once again enjoying the many benefits of their parksand historic sites. Now it is up to the Assembly and Governor toensure all of New York’s State Parks and Historic sitesremain open.”
Robert Moore, Executive Director, Environmental Advocates of NewYork said, "Environmental Advocates of New York is pleased to seethat the State Senate has advanced a sound budget resolution. Byrestoring the Environmental Protection Fund to $222 million andsome resources to the Department of Environmental Conservation, aswell as ensuring that state parks stay open, the Senate plan showsreal 'love' for New York's air, land and water. The Senate'sresolution is an excellent starting point for budget negotiations.Environmental Advocates calls on the Assembly and the Governor toensure that the final New York State Enacted Budget is asprotective of our shared environment.”
Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal said,“We want to thank the Senate Majority and Conference LeaderSampson for their efforts to keep our New York State Parks andHistoric Sites open. In the Adirondacks, John Brown’s Farmwill now be available for the millions of tourists who visit theregion on an annual basis. This dedication to protecting specialplaces has also been extended to restoring cuts to theEnvironmental Protection Fund (EPF) and its land acquisitioncategory.”
Neil Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack MountainClub said, “We would like to thank the Senate majority forsupporting critical environmental programs and our majestic stateparks, and we are certain that current and future generations ofNew Yorkers will thank them too. These programs cost relativelylittle, and in many cases generate revenue or help the state avoidhigher costs in the future, so these restorations are fiscallyprudent as well.”
"As North Country residents and members of the freedom educationproject John Brown Lives!, we appreciate the Senate's efforts tokeep open John Brown's Farm and other parks and state historicsites. This is sacred ground, a site of conscience" said directorMartha Swan. "The State of New York has been the caretaker of thishistoric legacy for nearly 115 uninterrupted years and it mustassure its continued protection as a State Historic Site."
The Friends of John Boyd Thacher and Thompsons
Lake State Parkssaid, "We laud the New York State Senate for their proposal torestore funding to our state parks. While still guarded, awaitingfull budget approval, we express thank yous for the many people whoenjoy the parks, including Thacher Park. We’ll still be ableto picnic, play and enjoy Nature. School children will still hikealong the Indian Ladder Trail, where they may catch their firstnewt or frog, and walk along the shores of an ancient sea thatstretched from New York to Virginia. And couples will join inmarriage in the scenic outdoors along the Helderberg Escarpment. Weagain thank the New York State Senate for their fortitude inkeeping state parks open for the people of New York, and visitorsfrom beyond our borders."
Clark “Skip” Hults, Superintendent of NewcombCentral School, “As Superintendent of Newcomb Central Schoolin the heart of the Adirondacks, I greatly appreciate the effortsof the Senate leaders who have called for restoration of funding toNew York’s state parks and historic sites. Last year, as partof a Social Studies and English Language Arts unit on slavery, ourstudents in grades 3-6 visited the John Brown Farm in Lake Placid.Standing at the gravesite where Brown and 11 fellow Harper’sFerry raiders are buried and touring the house with expertinterpretation from the site’s staff had a very profoundimpact on the students, and I am certain that the knowledge andempathy they gained visiting the John Brown Farm will stay withthem throughout their lives. Another invaluable backyard classroomis the Visitor Interpretive Center in our town. Both the Farm andthe VIC are important touchstones where our children connect withtheir history and the natural world. I hope the Governor willremember the children and keep them open.”
Laura Haight, senior environmental associate with NYPIRG said,"We are enormously grateful to the State Senate Majority for itscommitment to restore critically needed funding to keep our parksopen, enforce environmental laws, and support community effortsacross the state, from recycling programs to open space protection.These programs will benefit all New Yorkers, regardless of wherethey live. We all need clean air, safe drinking water, and accessto outdoor recreational opportunities.”
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