Building on their efforts to preserve parks for all New York’s families, the Senate Majority passed legislation (S7776A/Serrano) calling for state parks and historic sites to remain open throughout the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
In its one house budget resolution, the Senate Democratic Majority restored funding to prevent the closure of 57 State Parks and reduced operations at an additional 22 State Parks.
The use of parks for recreational activities generates $1.9 billion in revenue, five times the agency’s total budget. Park closures would have a devastating effect on small businesses, restaurants, and other economic engines in communities who are largely based around the tourism revenue generated by these parks.
Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said, “State Parks are part of our history and our future. They are the economic engine that drives our tourism industry. We need a fair and responsible budget, and cutting our parks is neither a fair nor responsible solution to the fiscal crisis. Senate Democrats remain steadfast in our commitment to families and the parks they rightfully enjoy."
Senator Jose Serrano (D-Bronx/Manhattan), Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation said, “The people of New York have spoken loud and clear-they don’t want their parks to close. With the sound source of revenue they provide, parks improve our economy with 5-to-1 return on investment to the state and improve the quality of life through affordable recreational activities. As sponsor of this bill, I am proud to see my colleagues stand with me and pass this critical legislation that enables parks to open in time for the Memorial Day weekend.”
Senator Neil D. Breslin (D-Albany) said, “Restoring funding to Parks will save the recreational environment that many New Yorker’s depend on. Thatcher Park is one of the most precious resources in my district that provide trails for summer hiking, mountain biking and fields for children to play. It is important that we protect and preserve Thacher Park to give all families a place for recreation, education and cultural enrichment.”
Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) said, “Our parks are the crown jewels of New York State. These state parks and historic sites are important not just for the recreation they provide, but are a critical component of our tourism industry, contribute to our quality of life and promote regional economic well being. The Senate Democratic majority has fought to save our parks, and as we move through the final stages of budget negotiations, I implore my colleagues in the Legislature to leave politics aside, and to work together to make sure that the end product of this budget protects our parks.”
Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) said, "During these tough economic times, families increasingly rely on our parks for affordable, safe, and family-friendly recreation close to home. Our commitment to fully restoring parks funding will save state parks and preserve them for children and families for generations to come."
State Parks facts:
- Over the past two years, State Parks have been cut by $46 million, which equates to 25% of the agency’s operating budget.
- 85% of the agency’s operating budget goes directly toward operating New York’s 213 State Parks and Historic Sites.
- The agency has already eliminated 1,000 permanent seasonal workers.
- Last year’s budget cuts resulted in service reductions at 100 State Parks and Historic Sites (shortened seasons and reduced hours of operation).
- State Parks received 56 million visitors in 2009, an increase of 1.9 million visitors from 2008.
- Park revenues account for a third of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s (OPRHP) operating budget.
- State Parks account for only one quarter of 1% of the overall state budget.