While members of the state legislature say there's no chance of many of the state's parks being closed down, one need look no further than the United 4 Thacher support event at Proctor's Theater in Schenectady Saturday, April 24.
Hundreds of people turned out for the event, which featured a number of local businesses and entertainment options. Members of Broadway Choppers in Schenectady brought custom motorcycles into the Proctor's lobby for display. In the theater, local bands took the stage.
Local artists, dance troupes and businesses also set up shop to make for a range of entertainment options for all event goers.
Getting the supporting groups to gather at Proctor's was not difficult, said Maria Oeser of event organizer 518Fever.com.
"We support the 518 area codeand we try to focus on things that make a difference in the community," said Oeser, who like many of the park's proponents is an area local with fond memories of Thacher Park.
Thacher is one of 41 parks statewide targeted for closing under Gov. David Paterson's executive budget. Senate and Assembly versions of the budget restore the funding needed to keep the parks open, but with the budget in limbo, that doesn't mean the park is safe, said John Kilroy of the group Friends of Thacher.
The park's bathrooms have been shuttered for weeks, many parking areas are closed, garbage pickup and mowing has been curtailed and, in a recent development, the park is refunding pavilion rentals and refusing to take reservations for the summer, said Kilroy.
The park is essentially closed. There aren't going to be people there," he said.
By preventing rentals and public access of the park, the state is losing out on a source of revenue, Kilroy continued.
"It's counterintuitive," he said. "A lot of people are going to be trying to rent pavilions."
Friends of Thacher collected 260 signatures and many donations during the evening.
Kilroy said the strong turnout on Saturday was an indicator of the level of public support for the cause of keeping New York's parks open.
"I think it's great, we have a lot of people coming out," he said.