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State touts $900 million Parks 2020 plan

Mike Desmond

New York State is working through its Parks 2020 plan, a $900 million shopping list of renovations and improvements for the state's vast network of parks. Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey says it is working and why parks attendance has risen from 57 million to 69 million this year.

Across Western New York, those millions are showing up, from a $7 million renovation of Red House Lake in Allegany State Park, to the new Buffalo Harbor State Park to Goat Island in Niagara Falls.

Harvey says Gov. Andrew Cuomo is putting money into the kind of maintenance efforts not always present in the past, plus millions of dollars into new facilities and projects to enhance existing parks and to accommodate those increasing crowds visiting the parks.

"With that, also you get an increased investment in all of the communities surrounding the park, in terms of tourist dollars and restaurants and hotels and we are seeing real economic development benefit to all of the communities that surround our parks," Harvey says.

Harvey says these are parks with increasing access to make sure everyone can visit the state's 216 parks. She is also using those partnerships in new ways, citing the Town of Hamburg for its strong management of Woodlawn Beach State Park as a precedent.

"Woodlawn is a great example of partnership," Harvey says. "We have some parks that are smaller and more significant for the locality and where the locality can step in and manage them well and I think Woodlawn has been managed well, that's great."

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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