Tag Archives: Cradle of Womens Rights

Votes for Women Trail: Federal Legislation Needed Now

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Appeal to Santa for a women's trailWhen we visited the national park in Seneca Falls, NY this year we asked Noemi “Ami” Ghazala, superintendent of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, about the significance of the feds reaching the “stakeholder” phase in the Votes for Women trail process. “We really don’t know what it means,” she said. “The criteria may sit there for a short time or remain there for years.”

This was alarming enough. Then we checked into the statistical probability of Congressional approval for funding the Votes for Women federal trail in the Finger Lakes region. We consulted the tracking web site for Congress and stumbled on the prediction that we might find coal in our stockings this year if we’re expecting a reauthorization of a bill that includes a Votes for Women federal trail. This is complicated by the fact that federal funding must be delivered separately. Continue reading

Dear Santa: Please Bring Us A Women’s History Tourism Trail

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Cradle of the U.S. women's rights movement is in NYPLEASE HELP, Santa. What we really want for Christmas is a women’s trail.

When members of the U.S. Congress and the New York State Legislature open their doors in January 2014, chances are that they will have received notice of our holiday appeal.

The reason for asking Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves for assistance is because of the urgent need for help in obtaining funding to advance women’s trails on both the state and federal levels. Realistically Santa might not be able to deliver on trails by December 25th, but that’s no reason to give up. Continue reading

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ in Seneca Falls, New York

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Christmas film classic: "It's a Wonderful Life"George Bailey: What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.

Mary: I’ll take it. Then what?

George Bailey: Well, then you can swallow it, and it’ll all dissolve, see… and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair… am I talking too much?

What’s Christmas without putting your feet up and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”? This much-loved holiday classic is an industry for Seneca Falls, New York at this time of the year. Continue reading

Cradle to Torch: How Women Won New York

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2013-11-18-icon-thumbThe anniversary of the New York victory for woman suffrage (1917-2017) in the not too distant future is prompting proud talk of our state as “the cradle of women’s rights,” which is true enough but only half the story. The phrase refers specifically to the revolutionary movement that began in the small northern town of Seneca Falls in 1848 and was propelled by visionaries like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Frederick Douglass.

That early movement was “cradled,” as in “nourished in its infancy,” by geography. Cities and towns like Rochester and Seneca Falls were the “north star” of the Underground Railroad, places packed with Abolitionists and Quakers and radicals of all stripes. The population nurtured the young women’s movement and provided a base from which its standard-bearers could venture forth to persuade the rest of the nation. Continue reading

Harriet Tubman and the Projected National Park

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Tubman HospitalEach week day there’s a consistent flow of visitors at the Harriet Tubman Home, with people anxious to find out more about Tubman, her life story, and see for themselves where Tubman lived and operated a haven for the aged at 180 South Street in Auburn.

Visitors pull into the parking lot to visit the property, museum exhibit, and take advantage of guided tours from the moment the doors open in the morning until closing at the end of the day. License plates on the travelers’ vehicles are from New York State and beyond. Continue reading

The Politics of Harriet Tubman and Barack Obama

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Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, NYIt’s the centennial year of abolitionist and suffragist Harriet Tubman’s death in 1913. Her Auburn, NY house, the home for the aged she founded on the property, and the museum attract considerable attention in upstate New York. We visited the Tubman historic site on the fifth day of our fall 2013 blogging tour of the “Cradle of the women’s rights movement in the US.” Continue reading

Can The Women’s Rights Trail Become Reality?

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2-HouseSignThe federal government shutdown in Washington, DC may have dimmed the lights at the Elizabeth Cady Stanton house in Seneca Falls, NY, at the visitors’ center, Wesleyan Chapel, and other park site locations. But it didn’t deter our determination to continue on the blogging tour of the “Cradle of the Women’s Rights Movement in the US” that has kept us busy.

Seneca Falls took up most of our fourth day on this blogging tour that also included Johnstown, Fayetteville, Auburn, Rochester, and Farmington. Identifying what constitutes the “cradle” is an informal process we devised that highlights key locations of activism located in a geographic area of the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York that suggests a cradle shape. Continue reading

Women’s Rights: The Matilda Joslyn Gage Home

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3-GageHouseIt’s helpful to know about the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in advance or you might miss it when driving through Fayetteville, NY (Onondaga County) – even though it’s strategically located on the main street.

Fayetteville is a small upstate town in the “cradle” of New York’s women’s rights movement, centrally located for those activists who worked with Gage and others while seeking radical social change in the years before and after the Civil War. Continue reading

In Johnstown, Hope for Votes for Women Trail Funding

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piano-72-LittleIt’s late afternoon in Johnstown, NY, magic hour, right before sunset when filmmakers capture the best lighting. Nancy Brown, a fifth grade teacher, is waiting to take us to the local historical society and out to dinner with three other board members of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Association.

This is the town where well-known women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton grew up. The place is also loaded with history of the American Revolution, plus generations of tanners and workers in the glove industry who lived and worked here. We can’t get to the Johnstown Historical Society at 17 North William Street without passing sites of major historical interest. It’s as if everybody is related in some way to this historical community. It looks like classic small town America, made in America. Continue reading

‘Spirit of 1776 Wagon’ Recognized By Legislative Resolution

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suffrage wagonOne hundred years ago on July 1, 1913, Votes for Women activists Edna Kearns, Irene Davison, and eight -year-old Serena Kearns left Manhattan from the headquarters of the NYS Woman Suffrage association and headed to Long Island in the horse-drawn wagon called the “Spirit of 1776.” They spent the next month organizing in many communities to gather support for women voting. The wagon and its journey were covered by many New York City and Long Island newspapers.

Four years later in 1917, New York’s women finally won the franchise. This was followed by the vote being extended to millions of American women nationwide in 1920 and the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Continue reading

History Projects Get Development Monies

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Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the recipients of $785 million in economic development funding awarded through his Regional Economic Development Council initiative, an effort designed to drive economic growth and create jobs. A number of projects with significance for New York State history were included and are listed below.

NOTE: A number of rehabilitative projects most geared to housing and streetscape, canalfront, or shoreline improvements, and adaptive reuse of historic buildings are not included in this list. A number of projects will require archeological and cultural resource surveys.

Cayuga County

Isabel Howland House Preservation ($400,000)
The Howland Stone Store Museum will stabilize and rehabilitate for re-use ‘Opendore,’ a late 19th/early 20th century residence in the historic Hamlet of Sherwood for use as a museum and public meeting space. Also known as the Isabel Howland House, ‘Opendore’ was the gracious Howland family home where, a century ago, Isabel Howland and her family hosted numerous important public rallies promoting women’s rights and other social justice activities.

Chautaqua County

Grape Discovery Center ($200,000)
Final phase in the completion of a Grape Discovery Center in Chautauqua County. The Grape Discovery Center will educate visitors about the historic development of the region and the role that grape growing played in the region’s cultural landscape and communities. The plan proposes 19 exhibit panels in the Display Room and 14 exhibit displays, free standing and wall mounted, for the reception/gift shop space, as well as exterior exhibits and an orientation pavilion.

Broome County

TechWorks! Museum of Invention and Upstate Industry Parking Lot ($116,500)
The Center for Technology and Innovation will install pervious paving in the parking lot and
the Garden of Ideas at the TechWorks! Museum of Invention and Upstate Industry. Porous
pavement will enable o$cials, residents, and developers to see first-hand the benefits and costs of replacing traditional asphalt parking lots with pervious paving.

YWCA Binghamton Preservation ($244,946)
The YMCA of Binghamton and Broome County will restore the exterior masonry and cornice of
their architecturally signi#cant 1907 Beaux Arts/Classical Revival building The building serves as a community anchor providing housing and services for homeless women and children, space for community events and programs and meetings along with healthcare and childcare. This proposed exterior restoration represents one phase of the larger project to renovate the entire building. The work will reinforce and stabilize the exterior of the landmark building and contribute to the rehabilitation and revitalization of Court Street Historic District in the heart of downtown Binghamton.

Clinton County

Plattsburgh Strand Theatre Restoration ($397,000)
The North Country Cultural Center of the Arts will restore the Historic Strand Theatre, circa 1924, located in downtown Plattsburgh, continuing it as a performing arts center and preserving its historical legacy. The funds will be used to repair and point the exposed bricks and terracotta tiles which have signifcant areas of damage and repair or replicate railings and wood caps, balcony and the historic lighting fixtures.

Columbia County

Dr. Oliver Bronson House Restoration ($300,000)
Historic Hudson, Inc. will complete Phase II of the restoration of the Dr. Oliver Bronson House by completing the exterior stabilization of the house, securing the building envelope, and protecting the house from further deterioration and loss of historic fabric so it can be returned to use for public benefit. Sited on a bluff overlooking the South Bay of the Hudson River on 52 acres of open space, the Dr. Oliver Bronson House serves as a magnet for the city, providing a park-like setting and increased public access to this historic site as part of the ongoing revitalization of the City of Hudson.

Hudson Opera House Restoration Final Phase ($400,000)
The Hudson Opera House will complete a key part of the fourth and final phase of the Opera
House restoration – improvements to the first floor, including the badly deteriorated historic Common Council Chambers and anteroom, for community use. New York State’s oldest
surviving theatre (1855), located in the heart of downtown Hudson, the nonprofit multi-arts
center offers more than 1,000 programs, most of them free, to 52,000 visitors each year.

Olana North Meadow Restoration ($274,125)
The Olana Partnership will implement a major aspect of Olana’s Landscape Restoration Plan – the restoration of the historic North Meadow. Designed by Hudson River School artist Frederic Church (1826-1900) as a work of 19th-century landscape gardening, the historic 250-acre landscape is equal in historic and artistic importance to Olana’s house and collections. The completed project will provide a transformational change to the Olana landscape, restoring the historic meadows and pastureland and reopening views that have been lost over the last 100 years to second- and third-growth forest.

Erie County

Buffalo Central Terminal Canopy Restoration ($306,117)
The Central Terminal Restoration Corp., Inc. will rehabilitate and restore two entryway
canopies located at the historic Buffalo Central Terminal. The disrepair and instability of the exterior entryway canopies pose a safety hazard for patrons, tourists and volunteers and
requires immediate rehabilitation.

Shea’s O’Connell Preservation Guild Theater ($400,000)
Shea’s O’Connell Preservation Guild will restore the interior of the theatre auditorium, located at 646 Main Street, Buffalo. The ceiling, walls and facades will be restored to their original condition. Cleaning, minor repair and painting of the molded plaster ceiling and dome together with restoration on the proscenium arch, front wall, balcony underside, walls, and chandeliers will complete the project.

Essex County

Fort Ticonderoga Historic Preservation Planning Report ($20,320)
Fort Ticonderoga Association, Inc. will prepare a structural condition evaluation that will be used to make long-range decisions regarding the facility. This evaluation will establish the structural priorities of the Fort and identify options for repair.

Lewis County

Constable Hall Restoration ($21,668)
The Constable Hall Association will restore this 200-year-old historic home in Constableville, ensuring that it remains open and accessible to the community and its visitors. This project includes restoration work on four Doric pillars, pointing/flashing of chimneys, repair of water damage in two bedrooms, repair of carriage house floor, and painting of the servants’ quarters.

General Walter Martin Mansion Restoration Plan ($18,750)
The Lewis County Historical Society will prepare a Comprehensive Building Condition Assessment report for restoration of the General Walter Martin Mansion in accordance with federal Historic Preservation Standards.

Monroe County

Genesee Country Museum Training ($4,864)
Training for 12 employees in Continuing Education for CFO, Crystal Reports Commercial Electric Wiring, Small Gasoline Engine Troubleshooting and Repair, Commercial Pesticide Certi!cation, and Modern Plumbing; IT technology , Point of Sale System, QuickBooks 2011.

Montgomery County

Schoharie Crossing Flood Relief ($95,000)
To replace signage and repair parking lot flood related damage to a prominent historic site and regional visitor attraction.

New York County

General Society Mechanics and Tradesmen Hall Report ($63,000)
The General Society Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York will develop a Historic
Structure Report, a planning document for the renovation, restoration and preservation of The
General Society 1890 building. The 70,000 sq. ft. landmark — at 20 West 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan, housing one of the oldest and the only continuously operated mechanics’ institute in the United States — must accommodate modern functions. The goal is to preserve the historic characteristics of the building while complying with current building codes, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and reconciling energy codes with preservation requirements.

Niagara County

Niagara Wine Trail Signage ($30,000)
Purchase and installation of signs on designated Niagara Wine Trail route. Project also includes marketing and training.

Ontario County

Finger Lakes Boating Museum ($450,000)
Continuing redevelopment of its lakefront, the City of Geneva will design and construct the Finger Lakes Boating Museum and Visitors Center on Seneca Lake.

Ganondagan Art and Education Center ($400,000)
The Friends of Ganondagan will construct and help operate a 15,654 square-foot, year-round Seneca Arts and Cultural Center at Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor. Ganondagan was the location of the largest Seneca town in the 17th century. The Cultural Center will be located a short walk from the reconstructed full scale 17th Century Seneca Bark Longhouse—a traditional Iroquois dwelling that housed multiple families. The center will include a gallery for historic and art exhibits; orientation theater for educational films and multimedia; auditorium for lectures, films, performances, and events; classroom for education; and administrative spaces.

Sonnenberg Gardens Roman Bath Stabilization ($43,000)
Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park will replace clay tiles and install gutters on the interior of the Roman Bath. Located in the heart of Canandaigua’s historic district, Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park features an 1887 Queen Anne-style mansion and nine formal gardens on a 50 acre estate. Replacing the clay tiles on the Roman Bath’s roof and installing a gutter and drainage system will slow the deterioration process and prevent further loss.

Rockland County

Bear Mountain Inn Restoration ($400,000)
The Palisades Parks Conservancy, Inc. will continue ongoing renovations at the historic Bear Mountain Inn. Renovations will include constructing a new accessible vehicle entrance for the Inn, modifying the north end of the Bear Mountain parking area to improve parking for the Inn and improve accessibility, designing and installing new interpretive and directional signs, beautification of the grounds, and designing and constructing a new green storm-water
remediation system for the parking area.

Saratoga County

Day Peckinpaugh Barge Museum Improvements ($191,000)
Improvements to the Day Peckinpaugh Barge Museum, a multi-regional educational and heritage tourism project, will improve its operations.

Schenectady County

Schenectady Proctor’s Theatre Preservation Work ($100,000)
The Arts Center and Theatre of Schenectady will complete historic preservation work at Proctors Theatre that will include repairs, restoration and improvements to the theatre’s ceilings, walls, side boxes, scagliola, balcony, mezzanine and orchestra areas, women’s and men’s lounges, and the Golub Arcade.

Suffolk County

Ships Hole Farm Restoration ($400,000)
Peconic Land Trust will acquire the Ships Hole Farm property, expand the farm operation, begin restoring the historic farmhouse and agricultural barn/outbuildings, connect the farm with the existing nature trail, and begin educational and historic programming.

Polo Stable Restoration at Caumsett State Historic Site ($400,000)
The Caumsett Foundation, in partnership with the state, the local community, other government entities, for-pro!t groups and private foundations, will restore from severe deterioration the masonry, carpentry and other exterior elements of the Polo Stable at Caumsett State Historic Site. This is the third and final phase of the exterior renovation project. The Polo Stable, the most architecturally important building at Caumsett, was designed by John Russell Pope, and is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The Foundation has already replaced the slate roof and cupola.

Warren County

Lake George Underwater Trail Website and Marketing ($50,000)
The Village of Lake George will develop and maintain a website for the New York State
Underwater Blueway Trail that will publicize and market the individual dive sites that together make up the Underwater Blueway Trail.

First Wilderness Heritage Corridor Implementation ($463,116)
Warren County will advance recommendations of the First Wilderness Heritage Corridor
Action Plan, an intermunicipal revitalization strategy for nine communities along the Upper
Hudson River and Delaware & Hudson rail line in Saratoga and Warren counties. E”orts
will include: modernization of the Dynamite Hill Ski Area to allow it to serve as a day-use
destination area in winter months; streetscape improvements between the municipal center
and the North Creek Train Station Complex; enclosing existing platforms and providing
restrooms at the historic railroad stops in the towns of Thurman and Hadley; small business
development to !ll vacant storefronts in the hamlets of the First Wilderness Heritage
Corridor; construction of a boarding platform at the site of the old Corinth station; design and construction of a new 1,100-sq.ft. classroom, an ADA-compliant restroom and o#ce space
for administrative services at the Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne; and the creation,
marketing and promotion of activities to enhance tourism.

Westchester County

Tarrytown Music Hall Restoration ($400,000)
The Friends of Mozartina Musical Arts Conservatory rehabilitate and restore the Tarrytown Music Hall, a highly distinctive 1885 Queen Anne-style local, state, and federal landmark. The project will include the replacement of deteriorated foundations, restoration and repair of walls and windows, rehabilitation of the roof, and restoration of exterior soft stucco and paint finishes and interior lobby plaster and paint finishes.

Bird Homestead Meeting House Rehabilitation ($250,600)
The Committee to Save the Bird Homestead will replace the roofs of the Bird Homestead’s
three buildings, make drainage systems and foundation repairs, replace the main roof and restore of the clerestory for the Meeting House. The Bird Homestead contains an 1835 Greek Revival house, a 19th-century barn and a woodworker’s shop with attached henhouse and woodshed, and the project will help preserve historic structures that retain a high degree of authenticity, but suffer from longdeferred maintenance.

Wyoming County

Letchworth State Park Signage ($3,000)
The Friends of Letchworth State Park will develop and install signage along the Clan Trail at the Council Grounds in Letchworth State Park. This signage will enhance the interpretation and understanding of the role of the Seneca Indian Nation in Western New York for the park visitor and especially the school children who study this local history in the 4th grade Social Studies curriculum in New York State.

Yates County

Finger Lakes Museum Building Renovation ($2,281,000)
The Finger Lakes Museum is proposed as the premier natural and cultural resource dedicated to the enjoyment, education and stewardship of the Finger Lakes Region – and to fresh water conservation around the world. The first step in renovating a former elementary school building will be the installation of a green roof, covering the roof with vegetation and a drainage system to absorb rainfall and limit stormwater runoff, as well as restoring and protecting adjacent stream banks.

A full list of funded projects is available online [pdf].

Eleven Named to National Women’s Hall of Fame

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The National Women’s Hall of Fame has announced the upcoming induction of eleven American women who have made valuable and enduring contributions to our nation. These women will be formally inducted on September 30th and October 1st, 2011 in Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the American Women’s Rights Movement.

The National Women’s Hall of Fame is the nation’s oldest membership organization recognizing the achievements of great American women. Inductees are selected every two years based on their lasting contributions to society through the arts, athletics, business, education, government, humanities, philanthropy and science. From a group of over 200 completed nominations, a national panel of judges conducted a rigorous scoring process and selected eleven women for Induction. Continue reading

NYS Parks & Historic Sites Capital Plan Update

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Here is the complete text of testimony given November 19th by NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash at the New York State Assembly Public Hearing for the $132 million capital improvement spending plan for our parks and historic sites. A pdf of the Capital Plan presentation is located here. This page includes the initial announcement of the plan along with a Report to the Legislature and the Capital Projects List.

Thank you for inviting me here today to discuss our real success story of the past year — our capital initiative — “The Revitalization of New York State’s Parks and Historic Sites”.

I truly appreciate this opportunity to fully discuss our capital program, its economic significance, and the importance of our state parks in communities throughout the state.

The New York State Park system is made up of 178 parks and 35 historic sites encompassing 325,000 acres of lands and waters. The system is widely recognized as one of the best in the nation. Our parks and historic sites host more than 55 million visitors annually.

Our huge inventory of public recreational facilities includes 5,000 buildings, 29 golf courses, 53 swimming pools, 76 beaches, 27 marinas, 40 boat launching sites, 18 nature centers, 817 cabins, 8,355 campsites, more than 1,350 miles of trails, 106 dams, 640 bridges, hundreds of miles of roads, and dozens of historic structures listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Niagara Falls State Park, established in 1885, is the oldest state park in the nation, and Washington’s Headquarters, established in 1850, is the first publicly-owned state historic site. The Bethpage Black was the first publicly-owned golf course to host the U.S. Open Golf Championship in 2002. The 109th United States Open Championship will return to this world-class facility in June of next year.

In traveling to more than 150 of our state parks and historic sites across the state, I have seen first-hand some of the significant challenges facing our parks. In many parts of the state, I was able to share these experiences with members of the Assembly and to those legislators who were able to join me on these park visits, I offer a special thank you.

As a result of a thorough assessment of our system, we identified a backlog of critical capital project needs approaching $650 million.

How did a $650 million capital backlog come to be? Over the fifteen year period from 1992 through 2007, the state park system grew. Twenty-six new parks and 70,000 acres were acquired, representing a 25 percent increase in the system. But over this same period, the state parks’ capital budget was cut by 50 percent, adjusting for inflation. Cutting the capital budget by 50 percent, while expanding the system by 26 new parks, led to a predictable outcome – we are now faced with the challenge of addressing a large backlog of health and safety and park rehabilitation needs.

Fortunately, this year Governor Paterson and the Legislature, with the support of Speaker Silver and Chairmen Englebright and Sweeney, responded to this challenge. The current year FY2008-09 state budget created a new State Parks Capital Initiative. This initiative, coupled with other funds OPRHP secured from federal, state, and private sources, enabled the agency to launch a program to revitalize the state park system totaling more than $100 million.

OPRHP’s $100 million capital investment is delivering tangible, on-the-ground benefits to the residents of New York State. Last week, I submitted a six-month update report to the Legislature on the status of State Park’s Capital Program. The agency has initiated more than 150 capital construction projects to remedy the health and safety issues and rehabilitate deteriorated facilities in State Parks and Historic Sites across the state—addressing health and safety concerns, and providing safe and affordable recreational and educational experiences for millions of New Yorkers.

Of the total $95 million State Parks Capital Initiative appropriation, $75.5 million was allocated to OPRHP. As charged by the Governor and the Legislature, we aggressively set out to efficiently spend these dollars. As of today –seven months later – OPRHP has spent or encumbered 96 percent of the $75.5 million.

Let me repeat, in just seven months through the fiscal year, we have spent or have under contract $72.5 million of the $75.5 million provided to the agency this year – and we have initiated bidding and contract awards for the remaining $3 million.

The agency is on track to encumber the entire $75.5 million by March 31, 2009, and the visiting public will see some noticeable improvements to our state parks during next year’s summer operating season. And, we are ready to begin construction on the next installment of new projects for the next fiscal year, spurring even more economic activity in communities throughout the state.

These capital investments will not only improve the parks and protect the state’s investments in irreplaceable public assets, but they also support the equivalent of 1,000 full-time private sector construction and engineering jobs which bolster the state’s economy in these very difficult times. Due to the nature of construction jobs, this equivalent reflects thousands of actual, on-site workers for various periods of time. The nature and scope of agency’s capital work also makes the projects ideal for small to medium-sized construction firms, businesses that will be most impacted by the economic downturn.

Here are some examples of revitalization projects made possible by this year’s State Parks Capital Initiative.

Four Mile Creek State Park Comfort Station Renovations.
At Four Mile Creek in Niagara County, we are providing park patrons with a new, updated comfort station. The new building features several “green” components including water saving fixtures and skylights, and is fully accessible.

Letchworth State Park.
Roads throughout Letchworth were repaired and repaved, and several public parking areas were resurfaced – addressing critical but long-deferred park infrastructure needs. Other projects initiated at the park this year include waterline improvements and construction of a new washhouse to serve campers. Camping at the park was booked to capacity for most of the summer. About an hour’s drive south of Rochester, Letchworth is a popular and significant tourist attraction in the Genesee region of the state, hosting about 750,000 visitors each year.
Saratoga Spa State Park.
The large Peerless Pool complex, including the fully accessible main pool, slide pool, and toddler pool, were rehabilitated. A new pool liner was installed to improve durability and eliminate water leakage. In addition, a number of the park’s roads, parking areas, bike paths, and walking trails were resurfaced. The spa park attracts 1.7 million visitors annually.
Allegany State Park Cabin Loop Restoration.
Last year, we showed you pictures of severely deteriorating cabins at this park. This past summer, we initiated phase one of the cabin loop restoration project that will rehabilitate deteriorated public rental cabins throughout the park, which has 424 campsites and 375 cabins spread throughout its 65,000 acres. Allegany is a top destination for campers, hikers, and nature lovers.
FDR State Park Bathhouse.
This bathhouse provided another of last year’s memorable “uglies”. Capital projects completed using this year’s funding include the rehabilitation of bathhouse and pool fencing. FDR State Park, located in Westchester County, draws 570,000 visitors annually. (Here we are viewing some of the ongoing work with members of the local Assembly delegation)
Green Lakes State Park Bathhouse Reconstruction.
Following a news conference attended by local Assembly members and Senators this summer, State Parks broke ground on a new $2.3 million bathhouse at the swimming beach in this popular park, located near Syracuse. The new bathhouse will incorporate green technologies, as well as current building code and accessibility standards, and will be open to the public for next summer. The park hosts 850,000 visitors annually.
Riverbank Traffic Circle.
This past summer, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of Riverbank state park community supporters and local state representatives. As part of our capital initiative, we are replacing the traffic circle roadway which provides the park’s main entrance for vehicles, including public buses. In addition to the traffic circle, the agency is in the process of letting contracts to rehabilitate failing roofs and HVAC systems, and has initiated other upgrades including rehabilitation of irrigation lines and the replacement of more than 100 trees donated by the

Million Tree Project.
Brentwood State Park-Park Development.
Construction has begun at Brentwood State Park in Suffolk County, a major athletic complex that will provide greatly needed playing fields in this underserved area. This first phase of construction, which includes sixteen soccer fields and four baseball fields, is slated to open in the summer of 2009. The park will serve thousands of children in a community that has been very much in need of recreational facilities.
These are just a few highlights. All told, this year’s capital initiative funding enabled the agency to undertake capital improvements in more than 80 state parks and historic sites across New York State.

By any measure, the State Parks Revitalization Initiative is off to a solid start. However, contrasted against a capital backlog of $650 million, much more work remains to be done. As I outlined last year, the bulk of OPRHP’s capital needs fall into two categories:

Health and Safety Projects.
The state parks continue to face a number of health and safety issues. We have outdated drinking water systems that need to be replaced. We have aging sewage treatment systems that have exceeded their useful life; dams on the state’s “high hazard” list that do not meet modern dam safety standards, and bridges that have been flagged as potential hazards. We have failing electrical systems and landfills that, although inactive for many years, were never closed to DEC standards.

Rehabilitation of Existing Facilities.
This category is by far the largest, comprising approximately two-thirds of OPHRP’s total identified capital needs. It encompasses capital rehabilitation of existing infrastructure in the parks and historic sites – replacing facilities that have long exceeded their practical and operational effectiveness and are in various stages of disrepair, including roofs, heating and plumbing systems, visitor centers, bathrooms, campgrounds, shower buildings, picnic shelters, recreation fields, pools, swimming pools, bathhouses, nature centers, roads, parking areas, hiking trails, and maintenance centers.
Looking forward to next year, the agency hopes to continue momentum on revitalizing New York’s state parks and historic sites.

We understand that decisions about next year’s investment in our state parks need to be made in the context of the unprecedented fiscal picture facing New York State. Like all state agencies, we are reducing operating expenses and focusing on the agency’s core mission and priorities. Nonetheless, I believe that, even in this time of fiscal difficulty, continued funding for New York’s State Parks’ capital program is a smart financial investment. The State Parks Capital Program has and can continue to deliver:

Safe and Affordable Parks
Visitation at parks was very strong this summer and, given the challenging financial outlook facing millions of New Yorkers, we expect continued heavy public demand next year for our campgrounds, cabins, picnic and swimming areas, lakes and ocean beaches, and other recreational facilities.

Private Sector Jobs
Through this year’s capital program, OPRHP has entered into 150 contracts and more than 400 subcontracts with private, local construction and engineering firms. Given the nature of our projects, we are contracting with small and medium-size local contractors. And, I am pleased to report that over the past two years more than 13 percent of the agency’s capital construction spending has gone to minority- and women-owned businesses.
Revitalized State Parks and Historic Sites directly support recreational tourism, which is one of New York’s largest industries. To grow our tourism industry, we need to make sure that these visitors have high-quality experiences, so that they will return in the future and tell others to do the same.
Economically Vibrant CommunitiesParks, open space, and recreational amenities are important community assets that directly contribute to the economic vitality of cities, towns, and rural areas – enticing businesses to locate and stay in New York.
Healthy Families
Parks provide a place for New Yorkers of all ages to and exercise and play. By investing is safe and attractive facilities, the initiative is part of a comprehensive state strategy to promote public health and wellness, particularly among children and underserved communities.
This year, OPRHP has proven our ability to quickly and efficiently put the State Parks Capital Initiative Funds to work – creating jobs and investing in tangible, lasting improvements to our public facilities. I hope that we are able to continue our momentum on this initiative, within the confines of what is affordable in the overall state budget.

In closing, I would like to thank you for your support of New York’s State Park System. As I have traveled the state over the past two years – from Long Island’s magnificent ocean beach parks, to our urban parks in New York City, to our hundreds of facilities across upstate New York – I have received universal support for the parks from our state’s elected officials. Supporting our parks is a sound investment in the future of our state, and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is committed to continuing to make wise use of this investment in the future.

Thank you. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Women’s Rights History Trail Bill In Congress

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The Hudson Valley Press Online is reporting that a bill is making it’s way through Congress to establish an Women’s Rights History Trail linking New York State sites, expand the National Register of Historic Places’ online database, and “Require the Department of Interior to establish a partnership-based network to offer financial and technical assistance for the development of educational programs focused on national women’s rights history.”

New York Senator Hillary Clinton will testify at a hearing in on July 30, 2008 in support of the National Women’s Rights History Project Act (S.1816), now before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks.

The full story is here.