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State Park Attendance Up, But Not At Parks Threatened With Closure
By Michael Benjamin
Albany, NY – Attendance is up at New York State parks this year, but some parks have experienced setbacks due to proposals that would have closed parks to save the state money.
Eileen Larrabee, spokeswoman for the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation, says increases in overall park attendance this year were driven by favorable summer weather conditions.
"We always say that one of the major drivers of our attendance figures is weather," she says, "and we had a good park summer, so that was a good factor, along with probably the economic climate and the fact [of] parks being in the news early in the season."
But that's not true at all state parks.
Earlier this year, Governor David Paterson proposed closing or cutting services at 55 state parks and historical sites. A majority of the parks slated for cuts or closure in Central New York saw attendance decrease this year. Some parks, like Fort Ontario in Oswego, lost visitors when they closed for a period of time before park funding was restored.
New York State is facing gaps in next year's budget as well, but Larrabee says it's too soon to tell how that might affect parks.
"For right now," she says, "we're pleased the parks are open, that people are coming, and we're looking forward to a busy fall and winter season."