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Woodlawn Beach reverts back to state park, after a decade under Hamburg control

New York State Deaprtment of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Woodlawn Beach is officially once more a state park, with a 10-year lease to the Town of Hamburg ending.

The town took over the park in 2008 at a time when Albany was in poor fiscal shape as a result of the Great Recession and was talking about shutting down all state parks.

"As a practical matter, it was a state park," said Hamburg Town Supervisor Jim Shaw. "It was constructed with state dollars pursuant to state plans, and the state felt that it had an obligation to the people who supported it to keep it open and keep it available for the recreation of people throughout Western New York."

For a decade, the town ran the space. Hamburg lost around $1.5 million during the 10 years, with some of the buildings deteriorating. Albany will now have to deal with structures a quarter-century old that need significant repairs.

Shaw said Hamburg became diverted from maintaining its own parks.

"It's been a fiscal drain and a human resources drain," said Shaw. "A lot of responsibility, which diverted us from our core mission of maintaining the Hamburg Town Beach and some of our neighborhood playgrounds and parks."

Shaw said when the town voted to turn Woodlawn Beach back to the state, the assumption was that money would be shifted to maintaining and improving town parks. In these coronavirus fiscal times, he said that will not be true this year, at least.

"It's going to be very hard to maintain the park renovation plan we put in place back in 2019, but we 're going to do the best we can," he said. "We've improved several of our parks and playgrounds already, but we may have to put the brakes on this summer."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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