Assemblywomen Janet Duprey (R,I,C-Peru) and Teresa Sayward (R,I,C–Willsboro) attended a presentation by NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash on February 12, 2008 to the state Legislature delineating the physical and fiscal needs, often urgent, of the New York State park system. The proposed funding streams for the projects were outlined in the January 18, 2008 FY2008-09 Capital Projects Expenditures report and include minimal federal resources, state funds, and private contributions. It is the assemblywomen’s belief that the major cost of remediation for the park system will inevitably be borne by the taxpayers of our state.
The presentation described the increase in the number of park assets over the past few decades while there has been a steady decrease in funds to service these same assets. Commissioner Ash stated that 65% of the existing facilities are in need of rehabilitation and 15% have health and safety issues requiring immediate attention. The state owns 29 golf courses; 53 swimming pools; 76 beaches; 27 marinas; 40 boat launch sites; 8,355 campsites and many other assets. The assemblywomen believe it is in the best interest of state taxpayers to examine the park system at its base level before making any long-term commitment to rehabilitation and expansion of state park holdings, the total value of which is in the billions of dollars.
“As representatives of the North Country, a region of unparalleled natural beauty where the economy relies almost entirely on tourism, we certainly appreciate the benefits the state provides. However, at this time of budget crunching, it is bizarre to be thinking of cutting educational, health care and other services without examining every facet of the total budget,” Sayward stated.
Duprey and Sayward have requested that a complete and comprehensive Public vs. Private Benefits Analysis and a Cost Benefits Analysis be completed for each property owned by the state. They believe that the state should only retain ownership of those properties that are of historic value and environmental importance, that are critical to our open space needs, and that provide a service or recreational need not available from the private sector. Any new acquisition made by the state should be subject to the same review process.
Duprey said, “The state park system should not have the unfair advantage of potentially unlimited funds when competing directly against private businesses. We believe a realignment of core priorities at this time is essential to every taxpayer.”