Improvements to Top Tourism Destination Complement Central NY Rising Economic Development Blueprint
Public-Private Partnership Helps Revitalize Park Lakefront and Encourage Outdoor Recreation
Improvements to 12 Miles of Erie Canalway Trail Complete
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced completion of a $6 million makeover of the Green Lakes State Park waterfront, featuring a new year-round environmental education center. The transformation of Central New York's most-visited State Park is made possible by public-private partnership through the Governor's NY Parks 2020 initiative, and complements "Central NY Rising," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development.
"Green Lakes State Park is a key destination in Central New York that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to experience the park's stunning lakes, and its great camping, hiking, biking and golfing," Governor Cuomo said. "These improvements will strengthen the parks connection to young visitors while helping to ensure it remains a popular tourist destination for years to come."
This project converted a deteriorated 1940's boat house on Green Lake into a modern facility to house park events and enhance environmental education programming. The historic boathouse materials were disassembled and meticulously rebuilt away from the water's edge. The new 1,100-square-foot center includes indoor classroom/multipurpose space and restrooms in the building, as well as an outdoor classroom, lakefront boardwalk and canoe/kayak landing, new boat rental booth and storage racks.
"The improvements to the Green Lakes State Park will boost tourism and provide additional educational and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The State Park is the most visited in Central New York, attracting hundreds of thousands of children and families to enjoy all that it has to offer. This transformation of the waterfront park will continue to attract tourists and economic growth in the region and beyond."
As part of the project, New York State Parks completed work to improve the park ecosystem, including restoring the lake edge, redirecting stormwater to constructed wetlands and bioswales/bioretention basins; upgrading electric systems; and rehabilitating the deteriorated West Beach parking area with green elements.
A public-private partnership spearheaded by the Central Regional State Parks Commission raised $1 million in donations and grants for the project, including providing exhibits on the formation and science of park's rare meromictic lakes; wildlife and unique habitats, a large topographic park map; people and the park through history, and an activity kiosk to highlight many things to do at Green Lakes State Park through an interactive touchscreen. The Open Space Institute obtained a $500,000 Environmental Protection Fund grant through the Central Region Economic Development Council to assist with the building’s construction. The center will help enhance environmental education programs in the park, including school field trips funded by the Connect Kids transportation grant program.
Empire State Trail
In addition, State Parks completed a $2 million project to upgrade the deteriorated 12-mile section of the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park from Green Lakes State Park to Canastota. The project installed new stone dust surfacing for much of the pathway as well as paved asphalt surface on a 1.6-mile section in Chittenango from Lakeport Road east to Canaseraga Road. The project advances Governor Cuomo's Empire State Trail initiative to create a 750-mile bicycling and pedestrian trail spanning New York State, from Buffalo to Albany and New York City to Canada. The Empire State Trail initiative will improve and expand the existing trails such as Old Erie Canal State Park to connect 750 miles of recreational trail across New York State.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "I'm thankful to Governor Cuomo and the Central Regional State Parks Commission for their commitment to connecting more people to Green Lakes State Park. The new center will help visitors better enjoy and understand nature and the outdoors, encourage active lifestyles and simply have fun with friends and family - while helping conserve the park's unique ecosystem."
Central Regional State Park Commission Chair Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr. said, "I am thankful for the leadership of Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Harvey and Central Region Director Joanne Mitchell and the generosity of the Central New York community for making this dream a reality. The new Environmental Education Center will help ensure that all of our children will better understand the wonders that Nature provides us every day."
State Senator David J. Valesky said, "Congratulations to New York State Parks on the completion of these two major projects that will enhance Green Lakes State Park's and the Erie Canal's attractiveness as tourist destinations. The major investment in these projects will draw visitors to Central New York and benefit tourist-related industries at all levels."
Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli said, "Green Lakes State Park has been a part of my life since I was a young boy. Swimming, row boating and canoeing in and on this beautiful lake have left me with wonderful memories. After meeting with Commissioner Rose Harvey, and hearing from Syracuse School Superintendent Jaime Alicea, it became apparent that the renovations contemplated would not only assure that our present young people would benefit from them, but also that these new renovations would enhance and heighten their educational experience. That is why when asked, I was happy to help secure grant aid to make sure this project went forward."
Assemblyman Al Stirpe said, "The new Green Lakes State Park Environmental Education Center will help inform students and park visitors about the unique ecology and history of Green and Round Lake. I know how important a project like this is for Central New York, so I made sure we received the funding we needed to get the job done. I want to thank my partners in government, as well as all those who donated their time and money, for making this state-of-the-art facility a reality."
Assemblyman Bill Magee, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, said, "The new and improved trails at the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park will allow residents and visitors alike to safely enjoy our region's natural beauty. Whether you're biking, hiking or just taking in the fresh air, these historic trails and Green Lakes State Park has it all. I want to thank the Governor and my fellow legislators for making these long-awaited repairs quickly and efficiently."
Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute said: "Congratulations to Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Harvey for the completion of the new Green Lakes Environmental Education Center. The Open Space Institute is proud to have supported this project which will help introduce young people to the beauty and wonders of nature. The earlier we build this connection to our natural world, the more likely the next generation will be to develop a connection to the environment and want to protect it throughout their lives. We are proud to be part of this learning process."
These projects build on nearly $11 million in earlier renovation projects at the park, including renovation of the Golf Course Clubhouse, modernizing the Pine Woods Campground, redesigning the park entrance, and rehabilitating park trails park trails.
The Green Lakes State Park improvements are part of the Governor's NY Parks 2020 Plan a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020.
Accelerating Central NY Rising
Today's announcement complements "Central NY Rising," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.6 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.
Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.