Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today announced that he has sponsored legislation that would formally require New York State to recognize the 2006 expansion of the Nissequogue River State Park.
That expansion, which Senator Flanagan achieved through a cooperative effort with the Pataki administration and former New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP) Commissioner Bernadette Castro, added 365 acres of public parkland to the New York State parks system.
The need for legislative action became clear to Senator Flanagan due to the fact that, over the past year, Governor Eliot Spitzer's administration refused to give the Kings Park community assurances that the transfer of the parkland would be honored.
That administrative move transferred the 365 plus acres from the jurisdiction of the office of Mental Health (OMH) to the control of the NYSOPRHP in December of 2006 after months of negotiations between Pataki officials and Senator Flanagan.
As outlined in the 2006 transfer, Senator Flanagan's legislation will require the added parkland to be used exclusively for recreational purposes with the exception of two minor sections that will remain under the control of OMH and the Kings Park Fire District.
The fact that the transfer of the 365 plus acres was achieved through an administrative order has led to some concern that a new administration could simply reverse the parkland designation and develop the land whenever they wanted.
While Senator Flanagan pushed the Spitzer administration and current Parks Commissioner Carol Ash to commit to preserving the land as a park for all to enjoy, the administration refused to offer any assurances.
That hesitation forced Senator Flanagan to find a permanent way to protect the land from future development regardless of changes in the leadership of New York State or the parks system. That led to the current effort to protect the land, and the Kings Park community, by giving the expansion of the park the authority and strength of state law.
"With the swearing in of a new governor, the need to act and to protect the future of Kings Park is now," stated Senator Flanagan. "The expansion of this park will benefit our entire region for generations to come and this legislation will remove any doubt about its future. That will allow the state to move on with a comprehensive cleanup and provide Long Islanders with a park we can all be proud of."
The legislation is currently in the Tourism, Recreation and Sports Development Committee and will soon be introduced in the Assembly by Assemblyman Steven Englebright (4th Assembly District).
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