March 9, 2016

Governor Cuomo Announces $450,000 in Grants to Grassroots Organizations to Enhance State Parks and Historic Sites

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $450,000 in state grants to 20 organizations dedicated to the stewardship and promotion of New York State parks and historic sites. The grants, funded through the Environmental Protection Fund, will be matched by nearly $242,000 in private and local funding which will support projects to strengthen Friends Groups and enhance public access and recreational opportunities at parks and historic sites across the state.

“These grants will help preserve New York’s natural green spaces while also boosting tourism and strengthening local economies,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our parks, trails and historic sites are some of the best outdoor destinations in the nation, and this funding will help ensure they remain in peak condition for years to come.”

The Park and Trail Partnership Program grants are administered by the State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and Parks & Trails New York, a statewide non-profit group. These dedicated groups raise private funds for capital projects; perform maintenance tasks; provide educational programming; and promote public use through hosting special events.

The Park and Trail Partnership Program grants are designed to:

  • Enhance the preservation, stewardship, interpretation, maintenance and promotion of New York State parks, trails and State historic sites;
  • Increase the sustainability, effectiveness, productivity, volunteerism and fundraising capabilities of not-for-profit organizations that promote, maintain and support New York State parks, trails and state historic sites; and
  • Promote the tourism and economic development benefits of outdoor recreation through the growth and expansion of a connected statewide network of parks, trails and greenways.

Representatives of State Parks and PTNY unveiled the 2016 grantees at an event today at the Keeper’s House at Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park in Westchester County. The awardees are, by region:

Capital Region – total awarded: $33,389

  • Friends of Grafton Lakes State Park: $5,609 to install a series of kiosks along the route to the newly rehabilitated Dickinson Hill Fire Tower Historic Site, providing historical and cultural information on the area to the general public.
  • Friends of Schodack Island State Park: $3,400 to install two kiosks, one in each loop of the new park campground, and promotional materials to provide information to campers about the Friends group, the park, and the surrounding community.
  • The Olana Partnership: $24,380 to develop interpretive materials that will support new guided tours of the landscape at Olana State Historic Site as part of the 50th anniversary of Olana being saved from destruction.

Central New York – total awarded: $54,230

  • Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum: $45,625 to upgrade the position of Executive Director from part-time to full-time to better serve the educational needs of the area and boost tourism.
  • Friends of Fort Ontario: $8,605 to provide wireless internet access at Fort Ontario State Historic Site for the Friends and the public and to create a secure website and an online museum shop.

Finger Lakes – total awarded: $110,869

  • Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park: $75,000 to hire a full-time Manager of Corporate Fundraising and Major Gifts who will develop and execute a five-year capital improvement plan.
  • Friends of Hamlin Beach State Park: $14,889 to install interpretive signs for a self-guided walking tour of the former Civilian Conservation Corps/Prisoner of War site on park grounds, and signs attributing the Friends for its work protecting the historic CCC/POW camp and in the care of bluebird and purple martin houses within the park.
  • Friends of Letchworth State Park: $20,980 for materials and training that will enable increased volunteer recruitment and engagement to better steward the park and its trails.

Long Island – total awarded: $27,000

  • The Caumsett Foundation, Inc.: $27,000 to develop and implement a plan for programming in the Hay Barn and adjacent buildings that will generate revenue the Friends can use to maintain these historical buildings.

Mid-Hudson Region – total awarded: $103,725

  • Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct: $47,475 to design and equip a Visitor and Education Center (the site’s first) within the Keeper’s House, a National Historic Landmark that had previously been empty and unused.
  • Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Inc.: $35,000 to hire fundraising and social media specialists to raise the funds needed to refurbish the roads around Swan Lake (Brothers’ Path).
  • Walkway Over the Hudson: $21,250 to increase the organization’s capacity to attract and host tour groups through training, outreach, and the development of site-specific, multi-lingual materials.

New York City – total awarded: $45,392

  • Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, Inc.:$33,392 to expand and implement print and digital advertising programs and new marketing initiatives to establish Four Freedoms State Park as a premier NYC destination.
  • Friends of Gantry Plaza State Park: $12,000 to replace damaged Adirondack chairs, cast iron tree grates, and broken light fixtures, and for a postcard campaign to the surrounding neighborhood to publicize these improvements and Friends-led volunteer events.

North Country – total awarded: $11,647

  • Friends of Crown Point State Historic Site: $7,212 to install a monument that will promote visitation to the site by adding Crown Point to the “Knox Cannon Trail,” correcting a 1929 omission that incorrectly left Crown Point off of this heritage trail.
  • Friends of the Nature Center, Inc.: $4,435 to replace and enhance the signage for all 13 trails at the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center at Wellesley Island State Park.

Southern Tier – total awarded: $10,748

  • Friends of Chenango Valley State Park: $5,998 to purchase supplies for the new Interpretive Center building, an outdoor movie theater system, and build three recycling stations for the camping areas.
  • Friends of Gorge Parks: $4,750 to achieve legal non-profit status for a new group that will steward Robert H. Treman, Buttermilk Falls, Taughannock Falls, Fillmore Glen, Watkins Glen, and Stony Brook State Parks.

Western New York – total awarded: $53,000

  • Friends of Midway State Park: $17,000 to boost visitation to the park and increase utilization of the new miniature golf course; profits from evening use of the golf course will further the Friends’ restoration and preservation efforts.
  • Friends of Knox Farm State Park: $36,000 to paint the clad exterior of the Main House and complete the restoration of the Main House and enhance the site’s appeal as an event space.

Governor Cuomo proposed the grant program as part of his 2015 Opportunity Agenda. Funding is provided by the EPF. The Governor’s 2016-17 Executive Budget includes a historic $300 million for the EPF, including a second year of $500,000 for the Park and Trail Partnership Program.

Senator Thomas O’Mara, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said: "New York can boast of one of America’s outstanding systems of state parks, including a network of historic sites, parks and trails that is second to none throughout my legislative district in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions, as well as statewide. I applaud these state investments, through the Environmental Protection Fund, to help support the critical, dedicated grassroots organizations so important to the overall effort to beautify and promote these natural and historical attractions.”

Senator Rich Funke, Chair of the Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee, said: "Home to award-winning destinations like Letchworth State Park and Hamlin Beach State Park, our region is a world-class destination for families who are looking to experience all that Rochester and the Finger Lakes have to offer. These targeted investments will support the good work being done by volunteers who are helping to ensure our parks continue to attract visitors and enhance quality of life here for generations to come. Thank you to the Office of Parks, Parks & Trails New York, and the everyday citizens who continue to make our state parks great."

State Senator and Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said: "I commend Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct for their hard work, without which this project would not be possible. This investment will boost local tourism and our economy by creating a Visitor and Education Center within the restored Keeper’s House. Investments like this are why I'm fighting to increase funding for the Environmental Protection Fund in the upcoming budget to allow for more projects in Westchester and across New York State that preserve our environment, create jobs and grow our economy."

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, said: “This visionary grant program helps grassroots Friends organizations become stronger and more effective stewards of New York State’s parks, trails and historic sites. I applaud the public/private synergy created through the coordinated efforts of NYS OPRHP and Parks & Trails New York to enhance the support, maintenance and promotion of our invaluable parks system.”

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, Chair of the Assembly Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee, said: “This program harnesses the commitment of dedicated volunteers who work hard to support their local parks and I want to thank Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Harvey and Parks & Trails New York for funding it again this year. We know that increasing the capacity and effectiveness of local grassroots Friends groups through this matching grant program provides enormous benefits for our parks and historic sites all across New York State.”

Assemblyman Tom Abinanti said: “As a longtime supporter of the Old Croton Aqueduct State Park, I applaud the use of EPF funds to better our parks and trails which provide families neighboring open space for recreation – they are the pathways that bring people back to nature.”

The Park and Trail Partnership Program, in addition to other grassroots efforts, complements Governor Cuomo’s commitment to revitalizing and transforming the State park system through his NY Parks 2020 plan. 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 2016-17 executive budget proposal allocates $90 million toward this initiative. In addition, Governor Cuomo launched ‘I Love My Park’ Day, an annual volunteer day on the first Saturday of each May to improve and enhance New York’s parks and historic sites. For the fourth annual event last spring, 6,500 volunteers took part in over 200 cleanup, improvement and beautification projects at 95 state parks and historic sites, contributing 16,000 hours of volunteer service.

“Across New York State, Friends Groups are essential to the stewardship and promotion of our state park system,” State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. “I applaud Governor Cuomo for getting behind this innovative strategy to leverage the private fundraising and volunteer services our Friends Groups already provide to do even more, and I thank Parks & Trails New York for its work to make it happen.”

“The State’s investment in grassroots Friends Groups will complement Governor Cuomo’s extraordinary commitment to the revitalization of the entire state park system,” PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin said. “These grant funds will enable groups to leverage more private and federal funding, marshal more volunteer power, and augment the State’s historic investment in parks. We look forward to seeing the transformational results from these innovative and important projects.”

Parks & Trails New York is the leading statewide advocate for parks and trails, dedicated since 1985 to improving the health and quality of life of all New Yorkers by working with community organizations and municipalities to envision, create, promote, and protect a growing network of parks, greenways and trails throughout the state for all to use and enjoy. 

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office