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State park to see array of upgrades

The recreation and climbing area will provide opportunities to enjoy the park outside of the summer season, said park spokesman Dan Keefe. He also said the park will provide locals with an inexpensive outlet to have a good time.

The projects are being funded through a $132 million statewide initiative to revitalize New York state parks and historic sites, along with federal funding and a grant from the Environmental Protection Fund.

The investment will be the largest in the New York state park system, but will only dent the estimated $700 million needed to upgrade the New York's 178 state parks and 35 historic sites, according to information provide by state parks office.

"A first-class parks system provides families with the opportunity for healthy recreation, protects the state's unique natural resources, and attracts residents, tourists, and private investment to communities around our state," Gov. David A. Paterson said in a statement. "The investment in John Boyd Thacher State Park and others across the state will enable state parks to continue nourishing the quality of life in New York State, while preserving and improving local economic assets."

Thacher Park used to have an on-site pool but it closed in 2005 due to infrastructure problems. A plan for new pool was discussed in 2006 but ultimately squashed. Officials will not replace the 55-year-old pool, but instead use the money to improve the recreation area and create a sprayground. The pool saw a drop in attendance in the decade before it closed, according to the Office of Parks. Attendance fell from nearly 30,000 in the beginning of the 1990s to 12,369 in 2005.

According to information provided by the Office of Parks, Thatcher Park is 1934 acres and brings in nearly 300,000 patrons each year. State parks and historic sites entertain more than 55 million visitors per year.

"The renovations come at an absolutely perfect time," said Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Albany. "It is a great day destination. There are more than 1 million people with in a 20-mile radius of the park."

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