Opened or Closed?

José M. Serrano

July 29, 2010

The Post-Journal

Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Click here to read this article on The Post-Journal website.

Whether closing state parks could mean the loss of federal funding tied to them may depend on how one defines "close." The state previously came up with a list of state parks to be closed as a way to save money. The plan has 41 parks on a closure list including Long Point State Park in Bemus Point. Instead of saving the state money as intended, however, closing the parks could actually cost funds.

"The purpose of this letter is to alert you that the closure of any state park or historic site that has received (federal Land and Water Conservation Fund money) ... would be viewed by the National Parks Service as being in noncompliance with federal requirements for those programs," wrote Dennis R. Reidenbach, regional director for the northeast region of the National Park Service to state Gov. David Paterson recently.

In light of the National Parks Service letter, Senator Jose M. Serrano, D-Manhattan/Bronx, and the Senate Majority Conference said Monday they "urge the governor to work with the federal administration to determine a plan of action which maintains parks operations and does not endanger federal monies." "While we are faced with unprecedented fiscal challenges, the reality is that New York’s parks are a vital component of its economy," said Serrano, chair of the senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation. He said the parks generate a 5-to-1 return on investment that helps generate $1.9 billion annually in economic activity. He said the loss of federal dollars will "add insult to injury."

Paterson said, however, the state "faces an historic fiscal crisis of unprecedented magnitude."