Parks In New York: Good and Bad News

Spring has arrived, at least officially, which means that soon the state parks will start getting ready for the summer season.   There’s a certain rhythm to it.  As the snow melts, staffs will be fanning out, tallying up the winter damage and making plans.  Applications for seasonal staff will be reviewed, and people hired.   As opening day gets closer, clean-up will start, facilities will be opened, and everyone gets ready for the arrival of park visitors.    That’s the “normal,” but the past few years have been anything but normal.  Budgets and staffs were cut, parks and campgrounds were announced as closed, and an overall sense of uncertainty reigned as political battles were fought over the parks.

The good news is that this year there are no planned closures.   The lessons of last year’s brutal battle over the parks, with the public on one side and the governor on the other, taught the state’s politicians that the electorate wants the parks.  It turned out to be a “third rail” in this state.  So there are no plans to close any campgrounds or parks this year.  They will open, they will be operated through their season.   That’s the good news.  Other states are in the process of closing – or thinking of privatizing – their parks.  This is not popular with their electorate, but their politicians are more interested in cutting taxes and other services than operating a state park system.

The bad news?  The infrastructure problems are still being ignored, and it’s unlikely that there will be money to address them.  Even more so, the budget cuts that have already been made will be cutting staff, services, and maintenance in the parks, so things are going to keep deteriorating.

“The crisis facing New York’s state parks goes far beyond this year’s budget proposal. Although parks may be open, there are pools and campsites not open due to the continuing deterioration of the system,” Kulleseid said.

It’s been a long-standing problem, and one that is still being ignored.  At some point, we have to realize that it’s not simply enough to keep them open, we have to keep them up! It is approaching the point where some of the parks may simply have to close, because the facilities are no longer safe to use.  That’s the real shame about our parks.   Last year, we learned that people in this state love their parks.   Now we have to decide what to do for the long term, so that future generations can enjoy them.

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2 responses to “Parks In New York: Good and Bad News

  1. overseasgranny

    You have reminded me of my post WWII childhood when we hadn’t much money to spend on luxuries. The extended family would rent all seven cabins for a week in a resort in No. Wisconsin way out in the woods. We had use of all the boats, the play areas and the on-site tavern all to ourselves, and since it was all extended family you could find us kids sleeping in a different cabin every night visiting our cousins. We learned how to fish, swam until our skin was permanently wrinkly, cooked fresh pan fish over wood stoves, learned how to avoid skunks and bears while getting wood, fed Chipmunks, exchanged books to read, painted those paint-by-number things, put together jig-saw puzzles, and generally had a wonderful time at little cost.

    How different a week at Disney World, spending money hand over fist…to what end. Fun, yes, I guess, but wonderful like those weeks in the woods? Nope, having done both, I’ll take the woods and lake anytime.

    • I spent a lot of my youth outdoors, and when we have family reunions, we take over a pretty large section of one of the local campgrounds. I remember that if it was a clear night, it was perfectly acceptable to throw a tarp down, take your sleeping bag, and spend the night outside. Of course, these days I’m not willing to do that without some serious air or foam mattresses. :lol:

      I know in my field that the people in my generation tend to butt heads a lot with some of the new generation. The difference is that my generation went into it because we’d grown up in the woods, camping, hiking, fishing, and so on. The new generation didn’t, and often they lack the rather pragmatic streak that we have. They have the “ideals,” and academics, but their practical experience is woefully in short supply. :roll: