7 LI parks part of state repair project

Photo credit: Danielle Finkelstein | A couple walks along the boardwalk at Jones Beach as the sun sets on another unseasonably mild winter day Friday. (Feb. 3, 2012)

by EMILY C. DOOLEY / emily.dooley@newsday.com
April 4, 2012

New York State is doling out more than $89 million to rehabilitate, upgrade and repair its parks as part of an economic development program, and Long Island is slated to get more than one-third of the money. 

The Island will receive $33.65 million for work at seven state parks, including $14 million toward the Nissequogue River State Park plan to demolish vacant and condemned buildings that were part of the defunct Kings Park Psychiatric Center. 

"The buildings were abandoned back in 1996 when the hospital closed, so all of the buildings have fallen into disrepair," said Mike Rosato, chairman of Nissequogue River State Park Foundation. "This is something the foundation and local community have fought for a long time." 

Another $11.75 million will go to renovate the West Bathhouse and 2-mile boardwalk at Jones Beach State Park. 

Captree State Park will get $3 million to rebuild a deteriorating marina facility and fishing pier. 

"These are all deeply needed," said Robin Dropkin, executive director of Parks & Trails New York, an advocacy group. "They could throw another couple hundred million on Long Island and it would still be well used." 

The money, announced Wednesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office, is part of the New York Works project aimed at rebuilding infrastructure and accelerating capital projects while creating jobs. 

"Rehabilitating our parks is a critical step toward promoting the state's cherished natural resources, generating tourism dollars for New York businesses and rebuilding our economy," state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said in a statement. 

Cuomo's office said 83 percent of state parks are deteriorating and each region received capital funding. Niagara Falls State Park will receive $25 million -- the largest single payment -- to replace American Falls Bridge and rehabilitate the Cave of the Winds area. 

"I think it's widely known that our parks were in desperate need," said Bryan Erwin, chairman of the Long Island State Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commission. 

Other rehabilitation funds for Long Island include $3.5 million for Sunken Meadow State Park, $400,000 for Planting Fields Arboretum State Park and $500,000 each for Belmont Lake and Bethpage state parks. 

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