Thacher Park Center grand opening. // Photo: OSI (@OpenSpaceInst)
ALBANY COUNTY — New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) Commissioner Rose Harvey announced the grand opening of the $4.3 million Thacher Park Center on Thursday, May 4. The center, which will remain open year-round, was designed to showcase the history and natural resources of the Albany Helderbergs and serve as a “launching point” for exploring the 2,500-acre Thacher Park.
“The newly renovated Thacher Park Visitor Center will provide a great opportunity for people to further enjoy the park and all it has to offer,” said state Senator Neil Breslin. “With its panoramic views of the Adirondacks, Vermont and Massachusetts, this new 8,240 square foot building is truly unique.”
Located near the trailhead and picnic area for the Indian Ladder Trail, the center, which is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., includes:
“The new Thacher Park Center is a great example of how Governor Cuomo is improving and reinvigorating our state parks,” said Harvey. “Generations of Capital Region residents have grown up with Thacher State Park as their playground and the new center will help build on these traditions, as countless new families hike the Indian Ladder Trail, gather together for special occasions, or warm up after a day of winter sports in the park.”
The Thacher Visitor Center will anchor several new improvements and activities underway in the park. Rock climbing is expected to start Memorial Day weekend, followed by a new aerial adventure course in July. A new playground area will be built adjacent to the visitor center this summer, including a climbing wall and slide. A mountain biking skills park continues to expand. Improvements are also slated for the Indian Ladder and trails throughout the park this year and restroom buildings at the Hailes Cave and Paint Mine picnic areas are scheduled to be replaced.
The Campaign for the Thacher Park Center, which was spearheaded by the Open Space Institute (OSI) and chaired by the Saratoga-Capital Region Park Commission’s Heather Mabee, raised $800,000 for the project. The campaign funded exhibits highlighting the park’s unique geology and natural history, as well as stylish furniture made in New York State for common areas. Continuing sponsorships and sales of brick pavers and merchandise will help support a sustaining endowment to maintain the quality of the facility. To contribute, or sponsor a brick or paver visit www.thacherparkcenter.org.
“The new Thacher Park Center will make this great Capital District park even greater,” said Erik Kulleseid, senior vice president of OSI and executive director of its Alliance for New York State Parks program. “With the goal of enhancing the overall visitor experience at Thacher, OSI was happy to take the lead in developing captivating exhibitory to highlight the park’s rich geological, natural and cultural legacy and encourage people to explore all Thacher has to offer.”
“For generations, Thacher Park has been a jewel of the Capital Region parks,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. “The opening of the Thacher Park Center, however, will elevate this landmark to a new height and, I hope, will lead to an exponential increase in new visitors! Many thanks to the Governor and New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for this multimillion dollar investment to make this park a top destination in the region.”
The center is a signature project in the Governor’s NY Parks 2020 Plan, a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor’s 2017-18 Executive Budget allocates $120 million toward the initiative.
Thacher Park, visited by more than 300,000 people every year, sits at the top of the Helderberg escarpment, one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world.