GREENE – With the summer camping season right around the corner, work is underway at Cook Park in Greene to clear the grounds of fallen trees and debris in preparation for the yearly influx of seasonal and weekend campers.
Each year, Cook Park draws in thousands of visitors from all over to take part in outdoor recreational activities and combat cabin fever. And while the number of campers who have checked in has been shy of expectations in recent years, hopes are to draw in more fresh faces this year with new programs and improved facilities, say camp coordinators.
“The park has always been a great place where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of everything. It’s a quiet place and there really are a number of things to see and things to do,” said the park’s chief operator Douglas Croley.
According to Croley, Cook Park will offer several new activities this summer. For the first time, paddle boats will be made available for campers to tread the 18-acre pond centered on the campgrounds, and a new kids’ program will be held Saturdays throughout the season with environmental seminars and different hands-on learning activities that are based in the essentials of conservation education.
Croley even predicts fishing to be better this year as park employees plan to stock the pond before the season officially opens.
“We have also been working on a new mile-and-half long hiking trail,” he added, making mention that the trail adds to the half-mile closed loop trail already open at the park. “That’s something we are pretty proud to finally have open this year.”
Despite ongoing improvements at the park, some county officials are wondering if it will be enough to bolster the traditionally limited number of campers who check in. The subject of Cook Park reached the table of the Chenango County Agriculture, Buildings and Grounds Committee in March, when options to increase the number of seasonal campers and boost park revenue were discussed. One of those options concerned the feasibility of wireless internet access at all 42 of the park’s campsites – a costly possibility that officials are still open to, though collectively weary to follow through with.
The biggest challenge presently facing Cook Park, according to committee member Robert Jeffrey, is the absence of a designated swimming area – an option which has been pushed off in previous years because of funds needed to clean and maintain the pond to meet certain safety criteria, as well as the additional cost of having a lifeguard on duty. The committee hopes to revisit the possibility of swimming again this year.
“I know not having swimming has always been a drawback,” Croley said, noting that tranquility is what attracts regular campers. “But even without swimming, there’s all sorts of things for people to do ... wildlife to see. It’s something you can’t get anyplace else.”
Cook Park officially opens for the season on May 27. For more information on Cook Park, visit the parks and recreation page found of the Chenango County website, co.chenango.ny.us.