State Reaches Deal to Keep 55 Parks Open

Legislators Work Late to Keep Parks Open this Memorial Day

By Juan De Jesus and Jennifer Millman
|  Friday, May 28, 2010  |  Updated 9:46 AM EDT
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Gov. David Paterson announces what could be an 11th-hour reprieve for New York state parks.

Gov. David Paterson announces what could be an 11th-hour reprieve for New York state parks.

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Parks around the State of New York will be open this weekend, Gov. David Paterson announced late Thursday.

Paterson said his staff worked with the Legislature and reached a deal to keep 55 state parks and historic sites across the state open in time for the holiday weekend.

The agreement comes up with $74 million to run the parks by reducing the amount of real estate transfer tax revenues that go into the Environmental Protection Fund, among other means. It uses $11 million of the proceeds from those taxes to support state parks and to pay local governments in the forest reserve.

The plan also endeavors to boost revenue by hiking fines for violations of environmental laws and hazardous waste generation fees, and via a statewide electronic equipment reuse and recycling provision that offers incentives to environmentally-friendly manufacturers.

"I am pleased that an agreement has been reached to reopen the 55 State parks and historic sites that were closed earlier this month. In addition, we are providing critical funding for clean air and water programs and implementing a new program to better manage the disposal of E-waste that I proposed and have fought for," Paterson said in a statement. "We still have much work ahead of us, however, as we continue our effort to reduce spending and address the deficit through a responsible enacted State budget."

The parks battle did little to help the governor, who continues to wrestle with the overdue budget. The state, which is now in the second month of its 2010-2011 fiscal year, is still trying to close its $9.2 billion budget gap and it will most likely not have a budget deal ready by the June 1st deadline.

“The legislature has made the tough choices to my satisfaction to enable us to open the parks,” Paterson said. “The real tough problem is we are still anywhere from a billion to a billion-and-a-half dollars apart.”

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