Overlook to remain open
After months of uncertainty about the closing of Thacher Park, as of Monday, May 17 the park is closed off to the public due to lack of funding to keep it open.
In February, Governor David A. Paterson announced that 41 parks and 14 historic sites around the state, including Thacher, will be closed due to a 20 percent cut in the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation’s proposed 2010-11 budget.
Since then both the assembly and senate proposed versions of the budget that included funding for the office to keep the parks open, however, nearly seven weeks have passed since the Thursday April 1 deadline from the legislature and governor to pass a final version of the budget.
After the budget deadline had passed in early April, the possibility of Thacher closing down began to look more like a reality when staff closed down the bathroom facilities in the park.
As of Monday, May 17, the entire park has been closed, with the exception of the overlook, The Park is closed, the parking lots are gated, with the exception of the overlook, said Eileen Larrabee, director of communications for the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation.
Larrabee said that park has ceased its mowing and trail maintenance operations, closed the bathroom facilities, and reassigned staff to parks that are to remain open.
`This is about the economic realities this agency, like other agencies, are dealing with,` she said.
Larrabee said since the budget deadline passed the park has been operating on a week to week basis; however, as the weather gets warmer and more people utilize the parks services, the office does not have the funding to accommodate the crowds. `We are getting to the point where the number of people coming to the park has grown,` she said.
According to Larrabee, the eventual fate of the park depends upon the enacted version of the state’s budget and the amount of funding the office receives. Until then she said the office discourages people from heading to the park.
`We would discourage people from going to the park, except for the overlook,` she said.