"Due to the late state budget, we are in serious jeopardy of losing our summer parks season. Pools, beaches and lakes should now be hiring lifeguards, summer camps should be opening for registration, and parks should be undergoing maintenance in preparation for the months to come. However, as budget negotiations continue, parks are in a state of limbo without sufficient funds to begin preparations for the summer.
"Last week, Assemblymember Steve Englebright and I met with Governor Paterson and presented to him a letter, with broad bipartisan support among our colleagues. This letter sought to maintain parks and move forward with the summer season while we continue to hammer out the full budget.
"While I am sure the Governor is as concerned about the viability of our State Parks as I am, I believe additional action is needed. On Friday I introduced a bill (S7776)- which passed through the committee process today- that will require State Parks and Historic Sites to maintain the same hours of operation as last year, and require the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation to use funds in the extender bills so that parks and historic sites can carry out summer preparations.
"We owe it to all New Yorkers to protect the recreational spaces that allows us affordable summer alternatives for our families, and the current economic situation in which State Parks find themselves is counterproductive the fiscal health of our state. I am optimistic that once this bill is passed, the Governor will sign it in time for parks to resume normal operations."