Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak announced that the Assembly passed legislation to keep Western New York state parks open for the remainder of the year (A.11308). Parks in the region that are now off the chopping block include Joseph Davis, Knox Farm, Wilson-Tuscarora and Woodlawn Beach State Park.
“While we made some tough decisions to get it done, keeping the parks open is absolutely the right move,” Gabryszak said. “Closing these low-cost recreational epicenters would not only have hurt our already wounded economy, but it would have taken away a range of inexpensive, healthy and educational activities for families and kids during the all-important family vacation season.”
Gabryszak said people are making use of the parks in record numbers. In 2007 and 2008 alone, Western New York’s parks attracted 10.3 million visitors, generating $569 million for the local economy. Considering the benefits of the parks versus the expenses incurred by the state in operating them, the parks generate $5 for every $1 spent.
“New York State is in the midst of an unprecedented fiscal crisis. While it’s true that crafting a responsible budget requires tough decisions and inevitable spending cuts, closing our parks was never the answer,” Gabryszak said. “Considering how much revenue the parks bring to our local economy and the sheer joy they provide for residents and tourists who come here, we couldn’t stand by and let them remain closed.”
In February, the governor called on the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to cut 16 percent of its operating budget for the state’s 2010-2011 fiscal year, equaling a reduction of $29 million – down to $155 million from $184 million last year. Cuts to the park system in recent years had already reduced park security, eliminated park programs and reduced hours at more than 100 locations.
“I am pleased we were able to reach a three-way agreement among the Assembly, the Senate and Gov. David A. Paterson to reopen our parks,” Gabryszak said.