And the state said four other Island parks would close if the Legislature fails to approves a $5-million transfer from the Environmental Protection Fund to the parks operating budget. Park advocates and legislators vigorously oppose that because the fund was set up for protecting open space and not to cover operating costs.
"New York faces a historic fiscal crisis of unprecedented magnitude," Paterson said. "It has demanded many difficult but necessary decisions."
The governor released the list the day before he was expected to announce at Hofstra University his intention of seeking a full term. And park advocates said they would be there to protest his proposed cuts.
"Before the governor sets out on an election campaign, he needs to fix some problems he's created already," said Linda Henninger, an advocate for Nissequogue River State Park, which is slated to close.
To cope with Paterson's proposed $29-million budget cut, the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation proposed closing 55 parks and historic sites statewide including Brookhaven, Caleb Smith, Cold Spring Harbor, Nissequogue River, Orient Beach and Trail View. That with service reductions at 24 sites such as closing all of the pools at Island parks would save $6 million a year, spokeswoman Eileen Larrabee said.
Raising beach admission and golf fees is expected to raise an additional $4 million, the state said, but no details on the increases have been decided.
According to a parks agency document, the $5 million EPF transfer would keep open 34 sites including Brentwood, Heckscher, Hempstead Lake and Valley Stream. But Assemb. Steven Englebright (D-Setauket), chairman of the parks committee, said "it's a non-starter."
While the Legislature has to approve the budget and the proposed reductions could change, officials said cancellation of the fireworks display after 15 years is likely to stand. The decision was made because the state has canceled the park police training academy class for the third year in a row, and officials say they no longer have enough officers to provide security for a major event on the busy holiday.
"People love to come to Jones Beach and see the fireworks on the Fourth of July," lamented Herbert Balin, chairman of the Long Island State Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commission. "People are going to be deprived of a great entertainment."