Friends of Rogers hopes to save center from state budget cuts

SHERBURNE – The Friends of Rogers Environmental Education Center Inc., a volunteer group, is hoping to spearhead a campaign in the coming weeks to restore funding to the center.

The group’s vice president and spokeswoman Sharon Pelosi said the not-for-profit organization held its first board meeting Monday night since the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced the center’s closure a week ago.

Governor David Paterson said 898 state employees would be laid off by Dec. 31, including about 150 from the DEC – five of whom work at the local Rogers Center.

Pelosi said the Friends of Rogers hope to begin a write-in campaign to local state representatives and circulate a petition in the coming days. She said the group will work with any other organization sharing the similar goals.

“Our immediate task is to restore funding to the center so DEC personnel can continue to operate the site. When that’s no longer a possibility we will look at other options,” said Pelosi. “It seems to us that the state is hoping for us to come in and take things over, but we want to make sure the community is heard first.”

A number of local politicians have expressed support to keep the center open in the last week.

Assemblyman Gary Finch released a statement Monday reporting his office had been in contact with the Office of the Division of Budget regarding the issue and he’d be sending letters to both Gov. Paterson and acting DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz, “to advocate for the center to remain open.”

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