The wave of outcry over the potential closing of Thacher Park has continued on to its third week, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
After media reports of the park’s closing, Governor David Paterson and the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation announced on Friday, Feb. 19, that 41 of its 178 parks, including Thacher, and 14 of its 38 historic sites will be closed as a result cuts made to the department in the executive budget.
The announcement has caused an outpouring of support for the park from local and state officials, and area park goers.
Most recently, at its Tuesday, March 2 meeting, the Guilderland Town Board unanimously passed a resolution calling upon the Governor and State Legislature to continue to fund staff and operations at John Boyd Thacher State Park.
`Thacher Park is an important resource to the residents of the Town of Guilderland,` said Supervisor Ken Runion, who introduced the resolution. He said the park offers invaluable recreational opportunities to the residents of Guilderland, however if closed, the Town will also suffer an economic impact.
`Businesses, particularly in Altamont, derive revenue and business through tourists going through Thacher Park,` he said
He also reiterated a line he said he has read many times. He said `If you want to build a good community, build a park.`
Councilman Warren Redlich said `I think state government and the state legislature have to find other places to cut before the cut parks.`
Councilman Mark Grimm shared the sentiment of his republican colleague, `It’s hard to believe that in a one hundred and thirty four billion dollar budget, we can’t afford to keep Thacher Park open.`
Councilwoman Patricia Slavick said considering high gas prices, Thacher Park is an accessible get away for local residents, and is often the destination for many school trips.
The following day, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Capitol building to protest the closing of the 41 state parks.` Protesters chanted such rallying calls as `hey, hey, ho, ho, these cuts to parks have got to go,` `whose parks? Our parks ` and` park’s are the people’s.`
Anni Murray, one of the grassroots organizers of the protest, said `These parks belong to us, they are not government parks, they are our parksparks are spectacularly beautiful, and parks don’t have political power.`
Mary Boyce, of Voorheesville, was one of the protesters on hand to call for the legislature to keep the park open. `Thacher Park is beautiful, people come up there all year.I think Thacher Park is a whole lot more important than people realize.
Assemblyman Steve Englebright D-Setauket, chairman of the New York State Assembly’s Committee on Tourism, Arts and Sports Development, was on hand to support the protesters in their cause.
Englebright said that some state parks are already implementing parts of the cuts, turning away people who would like to use the parks as camp grounds. `Their implementing it, it’s outrageous,` he said. He also said such implementation may also be illegal and called for the parks to `stand down from preempting the people’s voice.`
`We are not going to be pushed around, and we are not going to let our state parks close,` he said.
According to Englebright, the state has never closed down a park, not even in the Great Depression.
He also called on the supporters to keep up their efforts. `Keep up the pressure, keep those cards and letters coming,` he said.