New and Improved

The budget deal reached earlier this month includes a new $90 million capital appropriation for improvements to state parks and will keep the momentum going for the entire parks system. This marks the fifth year of NY Works appropriations, bringing the total state investment to $470 million.

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020.

Here’s a roundup of the latest projects at parks around the state.

Watkins Glen Improvements Rendering

Welcome to Watkins Glen State Park

Beginning in the summer of 2017, visitors to Watkins Glen State Park will have a much different experience thanks to a $6.5 million project to transform the popular park’s main entrance.

The project will relocate the parking area away from the gorge, creating a less congested and more welcoming approach to this leading Finger Lakes tourism destination. The main entrance parking lot will be returned to green space, creating new park amenities and enhanced interpretation of Watkin Glen’s unique natural and cultural history. This includes a new visitor welcome center, a small outdoor amphitheater, improved educational displays, a renovated concession/rest room building, a new overlook at the base of the gorge where people with mobility challenges will be able to enjoy the waterfalls, and reopening the “Indian Trail,” which has been closed for over 50 years.

Construction on the project, which is a partnership with PTNY partner The Open Space Institute, is expected to begin this summer and be complete for the 2017 summer season. Access to the gorge will be maintained during the project.

Read more about the project at Watkins Glen State Park.

Phase II of Buffalo Harbor Kicks Off

The newest park in the New York state system will continue to receive major upgrades thanks to Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 initiative and the Buffalo Billion project. Buffalo Harbor State Park currently has a large marina, boat launches, a restaurant, and a beach overlooking Lake Erie. New features added since the park joined the state system include a fish cleaning station for anglers, two pavilions, a playground, upgraded lighting, more shaded seating, and improved landscaping.


Upcoming construction will include a redesign of a breakwall (pictured above) which will include a fishing platform, shaded seating, and paths for walking and biking. The southern revetment will also be upgraded to allow better access for fishing. It is expected that the breakwall will be complete by fall 2016, and the revetment by summer 2016.

Following the first round of improvements, the 190-acre park opened to the public on May 25, 2015. The Memorial Day weekend brought in hundreds of families who enjoyed the new nautical-themed playground and water activities in the harbor such as kayaking and windsurfing.

Chenango Valley Beach Enhancements on the Way

PTNY ED Robin Dropkin, Commissioner Harvey, Lt. Gov. Hochul and RD Ron Hiltbrand tour planned enhancements for Chenango Valley State Park beach

Parks & Trails New York was on hand for the unveiling of a $2.2 million project that will transform the popular beach area at Chenango Valley State Park.

On a beautiful day in late March, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul traveled to the Southern Tier to make three announcements: the opening of I Love My Park Day volunteer registration, a 5% increase in state parks attendance, and improvements planned for Chenango Valley. The Lt. Governor was joined at the press conference by State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey and PTNY’s own Robin Dropkin.

The project at Chenango Valley will expand the sand beach area and create multiple swim areas that provide a range of appropriate depths for all ages. Water circulation and quality will be improved through hydro-engineered technology and aeration which pushes and circulates water from the bottom of the swim area. In addition, a new splash pad area adjacent to beach will offer children a new play experience and another alternative to cooling down on a hot summer day. The plan also highlights a new playground, volleyball and basketball courts as part of the newly revitalized games area next door to a previously rehabilitated administration building that now offers rental space with lake views for special occasions. The project is set to begin after the 2017 swim season.

Read more about the planned enhancements. See more photos from the press event.

Photo: PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin (right) gets a tour of the planned improvements to the beach at Chenango Valley State Park with State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, and State Parks Central Regional Director Rob Hiltbrand.


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