Hurricane Sandy’s devastation and already tight budget constraints are stretching New York state parks resources to the limit, officials say.
The late October storm caused an estimated $120 million worth of damage at Robert Moses and Jones Beach state parks on Long Island, The Saratogian, Saratoga Springs, reported.
The federal government will pay for repairs, but much of the manpower needed to plan, design and do such work is coming from state personnel.
“We can’t catch a break,” said Alane Ball Chinian, Saratoga-Capital region director. “Sandy really hit us hard. We sent a crew down to FDR State Park to clean up trees for a week. It takes a tremendous amount of time and attention.
Some area sites, such as Schoharie Crossing, still haven’t been fixed following last year’s ravaging floods from Tropical Storm Lee. The parking lot there was washed away and a temporary one is in use until a permanent replacement can be installed.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey has established a two-pronged plan for parks statewide in 2013. Goals are:
- Keep existing parks open, safe, affordable and accessible.
- Boost attendance by providing more value-added experiences for park visitors — anything from better restrooms to new campground grills, wheelchair accessible trails or educational programs.
“We really want to be responsive and provide all the little pieces our patrons are looking for,” said Heather Mabee, regional parks commission chairwoman. “We want to do things to attract new people to our parks, too.”
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