Earlier this year, I announced Senate passage of legislation I sponsored that would have required the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP) to prepare a master plan for the entire Nissequogue River State Park property. The legislation would have protected the entirety of the property - including the 365-acres of land formerly known as Kings Park Psychiatric Center. It was especially gratifying to have secured approval of this legislation by working in a bipartisan fashion with Assemblyman Steven Englebright.
Unfortunately, Governor Andrew Cuomo decided to veto this legislation instead of joining us in protecting our community, our environment and our way of life. Let me be clear that I am both shocked and disappointed by this action and feel like our community deserves better.
Since 2006, when my office worked with former Governor George Pataki to halt the sale and to have the additional land added to the park system, we have worked diligently to ensure that it is protected in perpetuity. We also secured over $31 million in state funding and worked with local leaders to ensure we continue moving forward in our efforts to preserve and remediate this property for generations to come.
This master plan would build on those actions by bringing together the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation and other interested parties and also gathering critical input from the public. In accordance with the legislation, the plan would have presented a series of possibilities for the future development and use of the Nissequogue River State Park, but only after conducting public meetings to gather useful information and input. Most importantly, any plan would have to consider important local factors such as the historic, natural and recreational resources of the park.
While I am dismayed that Governor Cuomo has denied final approval of this important legislation, I stand ready to work with all interested parties to see if we can reach an agreeable compromise on this important issue. I continue to be optimistic that we can work out a solution, and will return to Albany in January ready to work to find an amicable solution that protects the residents of Kings Park.