Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hostage No Longer, Deal Reached to Reopen Closed State Parks

Riverbank State Park
Chester Higgins Jr./The New York TimesFire it up: Picnickers in Riverbank State Park in Harlem in 2007. A last-minute agreement in Albany will undo program cuts at Riverbank and reopen dozens of closed parks around the state. The deal cuts $ 77 million from the Environmental Protection Fund, including $ 59 million for much needed land  acquisition.

"The fund’s budget for land acquisition, for example, which was $59 million last year, is zero under the agreement, an official in the governor’s office said."


Just in time for the ritual lighting of the grills this weekend, the governor and the Legislature reached an agreement to reopen the 58 state parks and historic sites that closed last week, casualties of the state’s budget crisis, according to the New York Times.

Gov. David A. Paterson told a WOR-AM radio host, John Gambling, Thursday morning that the staff members “worked until about 4 o’clock in the morning” and appear to have resolved the issues about the state parks.”

The Legislature still needs to approve the measure, but Austin Shafran, a spokesman for the State Senate Democratic leader, John L. Sampson, said at 4 p.m. that the Senate had received the draft of the legislation and was reviewing it.

“We have the framework of the agreement in place to reopen the parks this weekend and for the remainder of the year,” Mr. Shafran said. “Our conference is reviewing the specific details and are hopeful to pass the legislation shortly” – possibly as soon as Thursday evening.

A spokeswoman for the Assembly leadership said that legislation was “close.”

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Deal Reached to Reopen Closed State Parks

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