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LI parks to get $16 million in upgrades

A wetlands will be created at Captree State

A wetlands will be created at Captree State Park as part of $16 million in planned upgrades. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Long Island state parks are slated to receive $16 million of upgrades this year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday, and while most are not particularly showy, they are critical.

The funding, included in the 2018-19 state budget, is part of a multiyear effort to transform New York’s park system. Since 2011, more than $700 million has been spent on park and historic site improvements, officials said.

“Our world-class parks system attracts millions of New Yorkers and visitors each year, and this ongoing financial commitment will help ensure these jewels remain in good repair for years to come,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Part of the funding will go toward helping the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation fulfill a 2016 consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to close 54 cesspools by 2019. Long Island parks have 36 of the low-tech waste systems that leak nitrogen into the groundwater, and then into Long Island’s waterways, where they help create toxic algae blooms.

Other planned projects are:

  • Upgrading the bunkers, greens and irrigation systems on Bethpage State Park’s five 18-hole golf courses. The $500,000 of upgrades, already begun, are expected to be finished by spring 2019.
  • Creating a wetlands at Captree State Park in Suffolk County to absorb stormwater collected in parking lots. Rain gardens also will be added. Such gardens absorb water, curtailing flooding, and filter out pollutants. That $550,000 project should conclude by December.
  • Making the entrance to Caumsett State Park in Lloyd Harbor more welcoming, possibly by widening the roadway with inbound and outbound lanes. This $1.5 million upgrade should finish by the summer of 2019.
  • Upgrading parking at Sunken Meadow State Park’s Field 2 in Suffolk County, with less pavement and better drainage. Picnic areas will be added and nonnative species removed. These $1 million upgrades should end by the summer of 2019.
  • Continuing the $65 million overhaul of Jones Beach State Park with improved lighting, redesigned west games, and a re-landscaped area around the east games.

The $10 million of projects at Jones Beach should be done by the 2019 summer. That is also when the Jones Beach toll booths on the Wantagh and Meadowbrook parkways should be demolished.

This summer will be the first with fully automated parking at Jones Beach, with entrance booths at each field accepting credit cards or Empire State passes.

The park’s new Boardwalk Cafe is also set to open this summer. A 4 1⁄2-mile path for walkers, bikers and the like should be completed this fall.

The restoration of the park, prized for its 1929 art deco buildings and 6.5-mile sandy beach, has already reclaimed some of the original grandeur of the East and West Bathhouses.

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