Two LI Parks Victims of State Budget Crisis

By Greg Cergol
|  Monday, May 17, 2010  |  Updated 9:31 PM EDT
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<a title=New York State's budget crisis has prompted the closing of parks across and shutdown several historical sites." />

New York State's budget crisis has prompted the closing of parks across and shutdown several historical sites.

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Hiker Max Neukirch hit a roadblock during his weekly jaunt through the Nissequogue River State Park in Kings Park.

It was a barricade with a sign reading, "Park is Closed."

"This is a great loss for this community," said Neukirch. "Even during the depression, state lawmakers didn't kill parks!

Both the Nissequogue and Brookhaven State Parks were closed Monday, joining a total of 55 state parks and historic sites that fell victim to New York's ongoing budget battles.

The man who proposed the closings, Governor David Patterson, reacted with sadness while presiding, ironically, at a park opening in NYC.

"This kills me to stand here in a park knowing that I have probably closed down 41 parks and 14 other cultural sites and reduced funding for 7 others," lamented Patterson.

"I don't want to do that. It pains me to do that. It's just that's how dire our financial situation is."

Patterson and Albany lawmakers are still debating how much taxpayer money will be allocated to parks and the closings could eventually be reversed.  But with New York facing a multi-billion dollar deficit, the Governor insisted that is unlikely.

"We are in the worst recession this state has ever seen," Patterson explained.

The two closed Long Island parks had about a hundred thousand combined visitors in 2009.  Now, they will have to find new locations to hike or bird watch or canoe.

"We apologize. Obviously, we're sorry this is happening," said state Parks Long Island spokesman George Gorman. "But there just isn't enough money available to continue operating the parks."

Four other Long Island parks were also slated to close; but, they were spared by corporate and non-profit donations by the likes of Citibank and the Bethpage Federal Credit Union. 

 

"There's a lot of people who love this property," said park advocate Ray Staten, of the Nissequogue park.

"I don't think it's fair to the people to take the park away from them like this."

Staten fears the closed parks could become neglected and overgrown.  He is hoping to marshal volunteers to mow the lawn and maintain the property.

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