CAPITAL DISTRICT When was the last time you enjoyed a walk, hike or picnic in a park? Whether you’re a regular visitor or haven’t been to one of the state’s nearly 200 parks or over 30 historic sites, you may want to check one out on May 5 and show it and the environment some love.
Saturday, May 5, will be the first year of what organizers hope will be many I Love My Park Days. It’s a statewide effort to improve and enhance parks through volunteer efforts.
The event is sponsored by Parks & Trails New York along with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It’s a chance to get the parks ready for spring and summer visitors, especially since many cuts at the state level means there are fewer employees to maintain them. The State parks system is down 1,500 employees, for example.
According to Renee Ludwiczak, assistant park and recreation supervisor with New York State Parks at Saratoga Spa State Park, maintenance needs in state parks and historic sites are “hard to meet right now” and due to those cuts, they are shorthanded.
"Our state parks and historic sites can't thrive without dedicated partners and broad public support," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "I Love My Park Day is a great way for citizens to make a strong show of support for New York's wonderful park system.
Laura DiBetta, director of relations for Parks & Trails New York, the private group that organized the event, said, “We wanted to do something new and exciting that would bring visibility to the entire state park system and give people a chance to be able to give back to the parks. We know that New Yorkers really love their parks as they showed two years ago when they were threatened with closure.”