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State targets LI's state parks for $21 million in upgrades

Spectators at Jones Beach State Park for the

Spectators at Jones Beach State Park for the annual Bethpage Air Show on May 27, 2017. A number of improvements are on tap for the park. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

 At least six Long Island state parks were selected for $21.3 million in improvements — from modernized children’s games to safer driveways and renovated restrooms — their share of the $110 million the new state budget set aside for all state parks. 

Long Island, home to some of the state’s busiest parks, will receive more than twice as much as any region; Hudson Valley state parks come in a distant second, slated for $10 million, followed by the Capital region at $9.2 million, officials said in a statement last week.

"State parks are central to New York's thriving tourism economy and millions of New Yorkers turn to these world-class natural treasures each year for fun, exercise and community engagement," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s statement said.

His administration plans to invest as much as $1 billion in public and private funds in state parks over the 10-year period ending next year, making up for years of underfunding during lean budgets that threatened their future.

"This significant investment will help enhance and modernize our cherished state parks while promoting healthy outdoor recreation, preserving our environment and lifting up local economies," Cuomo continued.

In addition to miniature golf, the overhaul of games at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh includes shuffleboard and pickleball, officials said.

A number of major projects already have been finished at the 1929 park, including the new Boardwalk Café; now, visitors can look forward to new landscaping, improved lighting, repaired tile, and upgraded restrooms at the Central Mall, they said. The budget for these and other projects, most of which will not be finished until next year, is $15.25 million.

That amount dwarfs the second most expensive improvement planned: improved septic systems at several parks that will cost $2 million.

At Hempstead Lake State Park, $1 million will be spent rehabilitating the comfort station at Field 1. Work will start later this year and finish next year.

More buildings will be remediated at Nissequogue River State Park in Kings Park, which is being gradually created out of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center, a sprawling campus where dozens of houses and office buildings were looted and allowed to fall into disrepair.

The new budget includes $800,000 for this North Shore park whose bluffs overlook Long Island Sound.

At Great River’s Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park, both the parks department and the nonprofit group that supports it are contributing $1 million to improve the visitor center and parking lot.

And at Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve in Lloyd Harbor, the parking lot will be improved and the driveway widened so there is room for cars that exit and enter to pass each other; and a cafeteria offering prepackaged snacks will be installed in one of the dairy barns. The price for these projects is $750,000.

Additional improvements, which will cost $500,000, are planned for the golf courses at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, which is hosting the 101st PGA championship from May 13 to 19.

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