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State Parks commissioner outlines improvement plans for Niagara Falls State Park

by jmaloni
Tue, Jun 14th 2011 02:55 pm

State Parks committed to ensuring park is critical component of state's tourism economy

New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey today outlined a three-part plan to ensure that Niagara Falls State Park offers a welcoming and attractive visitor experience that matches the natural beauty of the Niagara River falls and gorge.

"Governor Cuomo's administration is fully committed to revitalizing New York's economy, and Niagara Falls State Park is a critical part of the economic future of Western New York," Harvey said. "The facilities at Niagara Falls State Park need to match the expectations of 8 million visitors coming from around the globe each year to see the iconic falls. State Parks staff takes great pride in the park and we will dedicate ourselves to improving and enhancing the facilities that complement the falls."

Harvey has directed staff to work on improving the appearance of the park, from immediate steps to correct wear-and-tear issues that arise from heavy usage to long-term planning to prioritize the 126-year-old park's capital needs.

Immediate Steps

Extra park crews have been dispatched to complete the spring clean up of the park that had been delayed by the wet and rainy spring weather. Crews have made progress maintaining walking paths and trails, re-sodding damaged lawn areas, planting flowers and landscaping, removing fallen trees, trimming trees to maintain views, and repairing ice damage from this year's unusually severe winter.

Summer and Fall Capital Projects

The agency will advance $3 million in capital projects to update aging facilities at the state park's most heavily trafficked areas, including Goat Island, Luna Island, Three Sisters Island, the Cave of the Winds, the Whirlpool State Park overlook, and the Niagara Gorge trail system. The projects are being funded through a combination of New York Power Authority/Niagara Greenway funds and other agency funding sources.

Long-term Planning

State Parks has initiated development of a comprehensive, long-term plan to identify priorities for improvements to Niagara Falls State Park. This plan will be completed this fall.

"As we go forward, we must also recognize that public dollars are limited for Niagara Falls State Park and the entire system of 212 parks and historic sites," Harvey said. "We ask the park's friends and supporters to join us in being responsible stewards of this park."

To that end, Harvey has initiated conversations with the Alliance for New York State Parks and other entities to explore opportunities to raise private support and sponsorships for additional restoration projects at Niagara Falls State Park. There are approximately $85 million in capital projects needed at the park.

Niagara Falls is the oldest state park in the nation, established 126 years ago in 1885, and it's the most visited in the state park system. A 2008 study by Parks & Trails New York estimated the economic impact of parks in the Niagara region is immense - creating 4,701 jobs and spurring $569 million of economic output.

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