NYS Budget Shows Parks Love
On Friday, March 30th, Governor Cuomo and members of the State Legislature came to an agreement and passed the 2018-19 Final Enacted Budget. Through their leadership, New York State can support the state park system, and protect our shared green spaces.
The agreement includes $90 million in critical funding for capital projects for the New York State park system, and $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), including an increase for state land stewardship to $32.6 million, and $500,000 for the Park & Trail Partnership Program, a grant program for grassroots Friends organizations. The Park and Trail Partnership program supports projects that strengthen Friends Groups and enhance public access and recreational opportunities at parks and historic sites across the state. The capacity-building grants enable groups to leverage other sources of funding, marshal more volunteer power, and augment the State’s historic investment in parks.
The EPF also includes another $1 million for the Connect Kids to Parks Program that reimburses transportation costs for school children visiting the many State Parks, Historic Sites and other environmental education facilities.
We are in the midst of an unprecedented revitalization of the State Parks system, thanks to a multi-year $900 million capital commitment from the Governor and Legislature. More than 700 park improvement and enhancement projects have been completed, or are currently underway, at 176 parks and historic sites in every region of the state thanks to the Governor’s NY Parks 2020 initiative.
The $90 million in State Parks capital funding included in the final budget agreement includes $15 million to transform a former landfill into a 407-acre state park in Jamaica Bay (Brooklyn). These funds will also continue to address the $1 billion backlog in infrastructure needs and critical health and safety repairs, such as replacing aging water, sewer and electrical systems, rehabilitating restrooms, and repairing bridges, roads, pools, as well as modernizing visitor experience, which will promote tourism, and enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers.