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Cuomo’s budget plan calls for $90M more for state parks

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's budget plan includes $50

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's budget plan includes $50 million for New York City's Hudson River Park. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

New York State would spend another $90 million improving its parks under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s budget plan, which calls for continuing to correct an enormous backlog of repairs.

So far, Long Island’s state parks have received almost $116 million under Cuomo’s plan to invest $900 million of public and private money in parks around the state by 2020, Randy Simons, an Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation spokesman said by email on Friday.

The Island’s budget share works out to 17 percent of the $680 million spent so far, Simons said.

Jones Beach, for instance, is undergoing a $65 million, five-year renovation that began in 2014.

New York State divides its 180 parks and 35 historic sites, visited by 69 million people a year, into different regions.

There are 27 state parks on Long Island and two historic sites.

“Considering there are ten regions, Long Island is certainly well represented and cared for,” Simons said.

About half of the 5,000 buildings in state parks are more than 50 years old, according to the new budget plan.

In 2015, the parks department estimated it needed $1.1 billion to make up for decades of neglect.

Though parks officials wait until after the state approves its budget to reveal which upgrades will be funded, Cuomo’s plan includes $15 million for the new 407-acre Jamaica Bay park and $50 million for New York City’s Hudson River Park.

The Open Space Institute, a New York-based nonprofit, in a statement noted Cuomo’s plan also funds the Environmental Protection Fund “at the historic $300 million level.”

And, in a first, the institute said Cuomo proposes funds and tax reforms to “encourage the long-term protection of forests on privately-owned property.”

Kim Elliman, Open Space Institute CEO, said: “While some national leaders have turned their backs on protecting public lands for public use and enjoyment, natural resource protection and habitat for wildlife, Governor Cuomo is ensuring that New York State is on the wise path of conservation and stewardship.”

Robin Dropkin, executive director of the Albany-based nonprofit, Parks & Trails New York, also applauded Cuomo for committing to finish the Empire State Trail.

By 2020, bikers and walkers will be able to travel on 750 miles of paths from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo, Cuomo says.

“Although changes at the federal level have made this a difficult budget year for New York state, Governor Cuomo stands by the environment,” Dropkin said.

“The Governor’s proposed budget shows his commitment to conservation and secures New York’s position as a national leader in the protection of natural resources, as well as the advancement of tourism and outdoor recreation,” Dropkin said.

The state’s budget deadline — by which the new $90 million of funding is expected to be approved — is April 1.

State & Region