Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District) announced that the $25 million he secured last year for the environmental cleanup of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center has been reappropriated in Governor Eliot Spitzer's proposed budget, which was presented on January 31st. This money, which is an unprecedented appropriation for environmental cleanup, will be utilized by the state to help remediate the property that is now part of the Nissequogue River State Park.
Senator Flanagan had sought this funding in a recent letter to Governor Spitzer. The funding will greatly ease the burden on the state parks department as they move forward. It also will ease some of the resident's concerns regarding the new administration's commitment to the transfer of the land.
That concern compelled community members to hold a rally on Sunday, January 28th, to publicly call for assurances from Albany regarding the property's future. The rally, which was joined by over 200 residents, was organized by the Kings Park Neighbors' Association.
Senator Flanagan was encouraged by the appropriation of this funding and appreciative that Governor Spitzer placed it in his budget.
"Governor Spitzer has provided a great first step regarding the future of this property and I am hopeful that this $25 million is a sign of the administration's commitment to the expansion of the Nissequogue River State Park. I am ready to work with the administration and the community to ensure that this park becomes a reality," stated Senator Flanagan. "I applaud Governor Spitzer for allotting this cleanup funding and I look forward to the future of this site."
This reappropriation completes a highly productive twelve month period regarding the future of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Property. From the cancellation of a proposed sale that would have brought unwelcome over-development to the community to the transfer of the property into the parks system, the last year has brought a renewed sense of hope to a community that has endured uncertainty about the property for ten years.
The transfer of the 365 plus acres of property into the Nissequogue River State Park exempts a 2.68 acre piece of property that will be used by the Kings Park Fire District and a 36 acre parcel that will remain with the Office of Mental Health. The remaining acreage, estimated at 368 acres, will now be utilized for recreational use.
This new optimism follows years of effort on behalf of Senator Flanagan and the Kings Park community to ensure that the people's voice is heard. Senator Flanagan has pledged to continue working with local leaders, town officials and environmental groups to utilize the state funding properly. As one of the most expansive sections of open space left in Suffolk County, the future of the site is important to both the residents of Kings Park and the entire region.
Since the cancellation, Senator Flanagan has had numerous meetings and discussions with local elected officials, civic leaders and residents to listen to their concerns about the future of the site.
Those efforts include calling on Governor Spitzer to confirm that the park this community is looking for will become a reality.
"While this is a great sign from Governor Spitzer, this community still deserves a clear answer regarding the future of this park and assurances that this $25 million is a real first-step and not a false promise of hope. There needs to be a firm commitment from the administration to utilize all necessary resources needed to make the Nissequogue River State Park the crown jewel that the entire region wants and deserves," stated Senator Flanagan.
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