This week Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $89 million for in New York Works funding for capital improvements at 48 specific state parks and historic sites that account for 37 million of the park system’s 57 million annual visitors. The state budget signed last week also includes $35.6 million in total funding for the New York State Council on the Arts grants, an increase of $4 million. The Environmental Protection Fund is unchanged, at $134 million which includes 9M for the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums Program and additional monies for some historic preservation projects. According to the Museum Association of New York (MANY), there are no cuts in jobs or programs at the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, but “Parks would be down 12 jobs, to 1,736, reflecting attrition and the ongoing hiring freeze.” Funding to run the parks would dip slightly, about 2.5 percent, to $211.3 million according to MANY.
According to a press statement issued by the Governor’s office, New York Works is designed to reinvent state economic development with innovative new strategy that will put New Yorkers back to work rebuilding the state’s infrastructure. The Task Force is expected to help create tens of thousands of jobs by coordinating comprehensive capital plans, overseeing investment in infrastructure projects, and accelerating hundreds of critical projects across the state.
Parks & Trails New York was among those who reacted enthusiastically to the New York Works plan. Through a series of reports over the last few years, Parks & Trails New York has attempted to document the challenges facing the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), particularly the agency’s enormous capital projects backlog, and the economic benefit the park system generates for the people and economy of the Empire State.
On a statewide basis, Parks & Trails New York reports that direct spending by OPRHP and spending by visitors to state parks supports up to $1.9 billion in output and sales, $440 million in employment income, and 20,000 jobs. The benefit-to-cost ratio is more than 5-to-1—more than $5 in benefits for every $1 in costs.
A detailing of projects in each region of the state can be found by using the Governor’s press releases here.