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Thacher Park on the chopping block

John Boyd Thacher State Park is slated to close as a result of reductions in the 2010-2011 executive budget.

The announcement came Friday, Feb. 19, from the governor's office just two days after officials from the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation said that no definitive decisions had been made on which parks, or how many parks will have to be closed as a result of the 20 percent cut the office took in the proposed 2010-2011 budget.

On Wednesday, Feb. 17, Dan Keefe, deputy public information officer for the parks office, said there were no specific parks singled out for closure.

Reports of specific park closings are inaccurate and misleading to the public, said Keefe at the time.

However, later that week, the governor's office released a statement that said 41 parks and 14 historic sites will be closed in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, including Thacher Park.

"In an environment when we have to cut funding to schools, hospitals, nursing homes and social services, no area of state spending, including parks and historic sites, could be exempt from reductions," said Gov. David A. Paterson, in the release.

In same release, Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash said that in light of needed reductions in the 2010-2011 executive budget, the parks office put forward proposed closures and service reductions to meet its agency savings target.

"These actions were not recommended lightly, but they are necessary to address our state's extraordinary fiscal difficulties," said Ash.

Following the governor's announcement, Keefe said the process in determining which parks would be closed was an imperfect one. "We looked at attendence, operation costs and availablity of other parks and recreation in the area," said Keefe.

He said the office stands to save $255,000 through the closing of Thacher Park.

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