Assemblyman Pete Lopez Calls On Legislature To Save Parks,
March 11, 2010
Assemblyman Pete Lopez is calling on his legislative colleagues to deny member item, or “pork barrel,” funding this year and instead use the money to help address key budget priorities, including saving 57 state parks and historic sites that have been identified for closure, as well as 22 additional sites slotted for service reductions, due to lack of budgetary funding. “As elected officials, we also have a responsibility to lead by example. Balancing the budget and building our economy will not happen unless everyone is willing to give. There can be no sacred cows when businesses are failing and families are losing their jobs and homes,” said Assemblyman Lopez. As a recent press conference, hosted by the Senate and Assembly committees charged with oversight of the state park system, advocates highlighted the system’s contribution to our state economy. These visitors bring much-needed business to the communities in and around the parks and historic sites as they shop at local stores and patronize other businesses. According to the New York State Council of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, a record 56 million people visited New York State parks and historic sites in 2009, an increase of over 2 million from 2008. Trends in tourism show that during times of economic recession, people tend to stay closer to home for their vacations; indeed, a new word was coined over the last year to describe these stay-at-home vacations or “staycations.” This trend is nothing new: during the Great Depression, Governor Franklin Roosevelt increased the size of the state’s park system. Furthermore, his successor, Governor Herbert H. Lehman used the park system expansion as an opportunity to put to work many of those unemployed by the collapse of the private sector. Assemblyman Lopez asked, “While Mr. Paterson has made clear his intentions, we cannot govern by press releases. Collectively, we have a responsibility to engage Governor Paterson on this issue.” In fact, Assemblyman Lopez has reached out to the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to find answers to some of the most pressing questions, including:
- Who will pay for the cost of closing the parks and historic sites and how many jobs will be lost?
- Who will pay for the cost of monitoring parks and historic sites to protect not only the sites and natural resources but members of the public?
- Who will be found liable if someone is injured while trespassing on a closed park or historic site?