Assemblywoman Russell to Governor: Keep Parks Open Before Bailing Out NYRA

May 20, 2010
Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) announced her firm opposition to Governor Paterson’s proposal to bail-out New York Racing Association (NYRA) with a $17 million taxpayer funded loan to preserve the Saratoga and Belmont horse racing seasons while refusing to open Canoe Island, Cedar Island, Eel Weir, Keewaydin, and Mary Island State Parks, Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site as well as an additional 36 State Parks and 13 Historic Sites across the state.

“The state’s priorities should be ensuring our hard working families have access to their public resources,” Assemblywoman Russell said. “With Memorial Day closely approaching, families will be looking to flock to our local parks, and will find locked gates and bathrooms, closed pools and pavilions, and closed camp grounds. I implore the governor to open all the state parks and historic sites before asking for money to bail-out NYRA.”

Keeping all state parks and historic sites open would cost the state $11 million, $6 million less than the NYRA bail-out. The parks within the Thousand Islands region employ nearly 900 people, generate over $60 million in local spending, and return $5 to the state economy for ever dollar spent to keep the parks running.

“Instead of keeping the parks open so the working families of this state can enjoy inexpensive, local recreational activities, the bail-out favors one region of the state and benefits the wealthy elite of the racing industry,” said Russell. “The parks system has continued to run efficiently and smoothly, increasing its patronage every year. Before we look at bailing anyone out, we should first look at maintaining the public’s investment in our parks, ensuring access to parks, and generating money for the state and local economy.”