Photo caption: Senator Fuschillo calls on Governor Paterson to stop the service cuts at Jones Beach State Park. He is joined by (left) to right Phil Healey, President of the Save Jones Beach Committee, Walter Arnold of the Save Jones Beach Committee, and Environmentalist Rich Schary.
Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) today called upon Governor Paterson to reinstate cuts he made to Jones Beach State Park. Senator Fuschillo was joined by members of the Save Jones Beach Committee in calling on the Governor to stop the service cuts.
“In this economy sitting on a local beach would be an affordable summer family getaway, but Governor Paterson’s cuts to state parks across Long Island and especially at Jones Beach will overcrowd areas and increase parking problems,” said Senator Fuschillo. “Just a small percentage of Governor Paterson’s discretionary funds will restore full access to beaches and parks at a time when families need them most.”
Senator Fuschillo, whose district includes Jones Beach, said he has been receiving calls and letters to his office asking for his assistance to re-open the park. “I bring a family member to the beach who is wheelchair bound. This is our ‘vacation spot’ this year since we can’t afford to go away (I lost my job several months ago),” said one resident’s e-mail.
Numerous closures and service cuts are scheduled at Jones Beach because Governor Paterson’s 2009-10 State Budget cut $1.6 million in state funding from the State Parks Department’s budget for Long Island. According to the State Parks Department, Jones Beach’s West End ocean swimming beach and the East Bath House swimming pool will be closed for 2009. The Field 1 ocean swimming beach will no longer be open on all summer weekends, but instead will only be open on three major weekends. The Zach’s Bay swimming area will only be open on Memorial Day and between June 27th and August 16th.
Approximately 8 million people used Jones Beach in 2008. On an average weekend day more than 10,000 people used the Jones Beach East Bathhouse pool which is slated to be closed.
In addition to cuts at Jones Beach, Long Islanders will face service reductions at other Long Island state parks, including Hempstead Lake, Heckscher, Caumsett, and Caleb Smith.
“Closing off parts of a public park to the public is an outrage. Our tax dollars pay for Jones Beach; if we have to pay the State more in taxes, why are we getting less service in return? Living near Jones Beach is one of the great benefits of being a Long Islander. We treasure being able to go there. Governor Paterson needs to restore funding to Jones Beach so that families can fully enjoy all it has to offer,” said Phil Healey, Director of the Save Jones Beach Committee.
“Cutting services at Jones Beach, which is among the world’s largest public beaches, is wrong at a time when so many more families will be relying on the beach for recreation this summer. I urge Governor Paterson to restore funding to Jones Beach,” said Assemblyman David McDonough, whose Assembly district includes Jones Beach.
According to a study by the Airline Quality Rating, there was 29 million less airline travelers in 2008 than the previous year. “This report can account for people who lost or fear losing their jobs or just want to save some money during these difficult times,” Senator Fuschillo added. “They’ll be looking to vacation close to home this summer.”