Operating Endowment Gift Among Largest Private Donations in New York State Park History
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that David Rockefeller has donated $4 million to establish an operating endowment supporting the Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Westchester County. This donation is one of the largest-ever private donations in the history of the state park system and builds on the Rockefeller family's longstanding support for its namesake park. Mr. Rockefeller also plans to donate approximately 500 additional acres of pastures, hayfields and forest to the Preserve in the future, adding to the more than 1,400 acres of parkland the Rockefeller family has donated since the park's inception in 1983. A map of the park can be viewed here.
"New York has some of the best outdoor recreational locations in the country, and, by working together with our partners in the non-profit and private sectors, we can maintain, improve and protect those destinations for years to come," Governor Cuomo said. "This funding will ensure that both today's visitors and future generations can enjoy all that the Rockefeller State Park Preserve has to offer. I am grateful for the Rockefeller family's ongoing support in this effort, and look forward to seeing this park continue to be one of New York's greatest windows into the great outdoors."
David Rockefeller said, "My family has been deeply engaged in the creation of parks throughout this country for more than a century. Our beautiful state park system is an important asset that distinguishes the greatness of New York State and we are proud to have played a role in its development. It is my hope that this contribution will make Rockefeller State Park Preserve more accessible and enjoyable for everyone."
The endowment will be used to support innovative environmental programming, capital improvement projects and stewardship initiatives at the Rockefeller State Park to preserve its health and beauty. It will also help maintain the park's signature historic carriage roads and stone arch bridges, which were built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. Designed to complement the landscape, the carriage roads allow visitors to experience the natural wonders of the area. The scenic paths traverse wood and stone bridges, wind through meadows and woodlands, and travel past streams, rivers and lakes.
The donation will be administered by the Natural Heritage Trust, a public benefit corporation established to receive and administer gifts, grants and contributions for New York State parks, conservation, recreation and historic preservation. It is the largest private donation to the Natural Heritage Trust to establish an endowment supporting a New York State Park.
Rockefeller State Park Preserve is comprised of a significant portion of the Rockefeller family's fabled Pocantico Hills estate. The family has donated 1,400 acres of land, spanning from the Hudson River to the Saw Mill Valley, to New York State since 1983.
Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor's 2015-16 Executive Budget allocates $110 million toward this initiative.
Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, Chair of the New York State Council of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, "This exceptionally generous gift from my dear Uncle David will help ensure that the magnificent 32 miles of carriage roads on the Rockefeller State Park Preserve will continue to be enjoyed by walkers, runners, riders and nature lovers for years to come. This kind of private support, coupled with Governor Cuomo's generous capital investment, has stimulated a renaissance of our magnificent state park system."
Rose Harvey, Commissioner of New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said, "State Parks has always relied on public-private partnerships to extend and expand the work we do – and these partnerships are now more essential than ever before. The Rockefeller family's commitment and generosity are a shining example in our New York State Park system that sets the bar for such partnerships."
Clare Pierson, President of the Friends of Rockefeller State Park Preserve, said "The Friends group is thrilled about David Rockefeller's very generous gift to the preserve. David's late wife Peggy was among the founders of The Friends and we appreciate his continuing the family legacy with this support that will enable this jewel of a park to continue to be available to so many."