Editor’s Note: The plan by the administration of embattled New York Gov. David Paterson to close state parks to help save the budget has hit a sour note with citizens across the state. A protest was held in Albany on Wednesday (March 3); Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas for WAMC-FM, Albany, was there and filed this report:
The noon demonstration at West Capitol Park was attended by New Yorkers young and old from every walk of life, united under one battle cry: “Save our parks!”
Among the crowd: Anni Murray, an Albany resident who became so alarmed over the prospect of Thacher Park closing, she singlehandledly organized an online campaign through Facebook and Twitter to keep the grounds open. Tim Carney is running for state senate this fall in Albany County; he suggests closing state parks could adversely affect the quest to build a convention center in the Capital City. He and Pastor Charlie Muller of Victory Christian Church agree that inner city families and children will be impacted by closure of state parks and campgrounds.
County Legislator Brian Scavo says he’s taking immediate action. Scavo is introducing legislation that would bring Thacher Park under county control, so it would not be doomed to closure.
NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright chairs the tourism, parks arts and sports committee — he delivered a strong message to the crowd after confirming a New York Times report that the state parks are already turning away people who are trying to register for campgrounds. Englebright received word from officials that the state had cancelled some 350 campsite reservations and issued refunds. Gov. David Paterson’s budget proposal for fiscal 2010-2011 calls for over $11 million in cuts that would close up to 91 of New York’s 178 state parks.