Closing State parks makes little economic sense, hinders public

Parks? Who needs them? Or so it would seem some of the State of New York’s legislators apparently believe. Faced with a huge $8.2B deficit, the State recently announced plans to either close or vastly curtail services in 100 of its 213 State Parks. Among those on the chopping block are Hunts Pond and Bowman Lake. While the former is primarily a wilderness, low-impact park, Bowman is a recreational campsite facility used by hundreds each year.

To say the announcement was unpopular would be a gross understatement. If you’ve read the Evening Sun’s “30 Seconds” or “Letters to the Editor,” you’re aware of how the public, both locally and statewide, feel about it. The question is, does anyone in Albany’s political or bureaucratic aristocracy care anymore about what the state’s residents want them to do? And also, will these closure actually reduce the deficit or make it worse? A report by the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash quoted the needed budget as being $40M, $19 million for state parks capital projects and $21 million for municipal park grants to fund local park and trail projects.

According to the NYS Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the parks system attracts approximately 55 million visits each year; working families traveling to wild lands conserved through taxpayer dollar purchases, assuring New Yorkers and non-residents alike access to wild treasures for all to enjoy, and also learn about the natural world we share. Through this invaluable opportunity, NYS realizes a mammoth economic and social impact.

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