August - Park Connect


August 2016, Issue 31

learn to swim


Learn-to-Swim Program Expands

A growing partnership is helping provide free Learn-to-Swim programs to 3,000 children this summer at State Parks across New York. Tapping State Park’s lifeguard corps to offer instructions, the Learn-to Swim program not only teaches children valuable skills and techniques that could be life-saving, it also encourages them to enjoy a lifelong, health-promoting physical activity. The program, now in its fourth year, is offered through a partnership among State Parks; the American Red Cross; the National Swimming Pool Foundation; the Northeast Spa and Pool Association Foundation and the New York State Department of Health. Read More

MLB Roberto

Home Run: Pro Baseball Brings New Ballfields, Programs to Roberto Clemente State Park

New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball visited Roberto Clemente State Park to help announce a partnership between Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, Harlem RBI, a youth development organization, and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo  to create a youth baseball and softball academy at the Bronx park.  MLB and the MLBPA will devote more than $4 million to build new sports facilities and sponsor new Harlem RBI programs to serve New York City youth in the park. Harlem RBI expects to immediately serve at least 1,500 youth at the Park, tripling the number of youth currently participating in its baseball programs. Rodriquez has been a long-time supporter of organizations that use sports as a catalyst to develop the skills students need to succeed in the classroom, their communities and their future careers.  His work with Harlem RBI is a continuation of these efforts, and in recognition of his $750,000 contribution to the program, the new field at Roberto Clemente State Park will be named “Alex Rodriguez Field.” Read more

lake bonita

New Pathways Coming to Our Parks

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $1.3 million in funding for 17 projects to improve and expand State Park hiking trails and outdoor recreational access projects across New York. The trails projects are part of the Governor’s historic commitment to improving parks and expanding access to outdoor recreation through the NY Parks 2020 Plan. Read More 

Aaron Donato

Behind the Scenery with Aaron Donato, Trail Steward

How long have you been with the agency? I have been with the agency for one year.

What does someone in your position do? During the academic year, the Taconic Outdoor Education Center sees a high volume of school groups visiting for a variety of environmental education and team building programs. During the summer, my outdoor educator colleagues and I have been at the very busy Washburn Trailhead in providing maps and water to hikers, many of whom are going on their first ever hike!

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
The coolest thing I've ever done was bicycle the California coast on an old road bike and see elephant seals and beautiful scenery. The coolest thing I have done with parks was having the opportunity to teach students from the public school in Brooklyn where my mom is a music teacher. They came for two nights and my mom said that when they got back it was all they could talk about!

Is there a destination in the park/region you’d recommend to someone?  I think that hiking along the Appalachian Trail and the trails that come off of it as it passes through Fahnestock State Park is a really fun experience. Then say you hiked the AT (just hope no one asks how much of it.)

What inspired you to work in the park system?  I came to the Taconic Outdoor Education Center from Brooklyn when I was in 4th and 5th grade for overnight trips. I recognize this as a very influential point in my life and a moment where I became very interested in ecology at a young age. I had so much fun with my educator that I jumped at the opportunity to inspire city kids like me in the same way and in a location that had so much personal importance in making me who I am today.


Renewed View of Taughannock Falls

The view from above New York State’s tallest waterfall just got better. A $1.9 million project to renew the overlook at Taughannock Falls State Park is complete, transforming a barren patch of asphalt into a more welcoming spot to view the waterfall. Improvements include new picnic areas, a three-season comfort and information station, native plant gardens and a redesigned parking area featuring a permeable parking surface that manages and filters stormwater runoff to better protect Cayuga Lake and the surrounding environment. Read more 

Quaker bathhouse

New Bathhouse at Allegany Now Open

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul recently attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a modern new bathhouse at Quaker Lake Beach in Allegany State Park. The new bathhouse is the first major improvement to the popular Western New York beachfront in nearly 50 years, and features new and improved food service, playground and a spacious three-season multi-purpose 'Great Room' which will be used for interpretive and nature lectures as well as Friends Group meetings, training programs and private gatherings. The project was funded by Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 initiative. Read more


New Improvements for Historic Hamlin Beach

Two key projects are renewing Hamlin Beach State Park on Lake Ontario. A $1.5 million project to modernize and preserve the 1939 bathhouse was recently completed. The bathhouse, built by members of the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, underwent a complete renovation to protect the building’s historic integrity and modernize public spaces. Construction has also begun on a $750,000 project to expand educational and recreational activities within the park’s Yanty Marsh – an ecologically unique area, popular for birdwatching, fishing, paddling and nature observation. The enhancements will feature a new boardwalk nature trail and observation tower. Read more

disc Golf

Get Fit NY

Whether you’re looking to run, hike, bike or discover something new, there are plenty of events to take advantage of in New York State Parks to help you stay active this summer.

Join Sunken Meadow State Park on August 7th from 10:00am-12:00pm, for one of its year round hiking series. The hike average is approximately 3-4 miles and good hiking shoes and water are recommended. Cost for the hike is $4.00 per adult and $3 for children (ages 3-17). Other hikes of interest include the Genesee Valley Greenway’s Wegman Hike #9 on August 13th. This 3-mile hike is located in Livingston County in the town of Nunda. Take Route 408 south from Mt. Morris and turn east on Pentagass Road. The trailhead to this spur is .55 miles from Route 408. Meet at the trailhead at 10:00am.

Looking for cycling opportunities? Stop by Niagara Falls State Park on August 7th from 6-8pm for a scenic, evening bicycle ride along the Niagara Gorge. Cyclists will ride from Niagara Falls State Park to Devil’s Hole State Park and back with fireworks to follow. For additional information and registration, please call 716-282-5154.

For those looking to test their disc golf skills, Mine Kill State Park will be hosting its Third Annual Ace Race on August 13th! Everyone will get two throws from each temporary tee, but instead of keeping score the only goal is to throw aces. Holes are shortened, and everyone is throwing the same disc: a brand new Discraft prototype disc that is easy to throw and developed just for the event. Cost is $30 per player, which includes a player pack filled with cool items! You can register for the event by signing up at

Don’t miss the 10th Annual Trooper Longobardo Memorial Walk/Run on August 21st at Saratoga Spa State Park! The 5K Run/walk will help benefit the Longobardo Memorial Scholarship Fund. Hamburgers, hot dogs and other refreshments will be served after the race along with music entertainment. You can register for the race at

Looking for more ways to get fit and stay active this summer? New York State Parks provides countless opportunities and activities to stay active and exercise - no matter your age or fitness level. For a complete listing of upcoming events, visit our #GetFitNYS events page for more details.  


Prestigious Historic Collections Care Training Comes to Staatsburgh State Historic Site

While most of us equate housekeeping with necessary but not-beloved routines in our lives at home, housekeeping in an historic house is essential to the survival of historic collections at our State Historic Sites. That’s why New York State’s Bureau of Historic Sites staff and fellow conservation professionals recently held a 2-week intensive workshop on historic housekeeping at Staatsburgh State Historic Site, a Gilded Age mansion on the Hudson River. The Foundation for the American Institute for Conservation and the National Endowment for the Humanities partnered with State Parks on the workshop.

 “The historic housekeeper is a crucial part of collections care,” says Bureau of Historic Sites’ Furniture Conservator, David Bayne: “The housekeeper interacts with the entire collection on a daily basis; assesses the environment, and is the first person to notice damaging effects on historic artifacts.”  For this reason, housekeeping for historic house professionals is a component of professional training.“There is a set of special techniques and principles historic housekeepers use to clean objects without placing undue stress on their materials, be they textile, wood, glass or other,” says Bayne. 

Aspiring conservators from all over the United States learned in-depth methods of caring for many different types of collections, and gaining insight into artifact conservation and the conditions that cause deterioration. The students tackled the “deep” cleaning of a historic room, including moving furniture, rolling and vacuuming a carpet and cleaning the decorative arts objects. In turn, Staatsburgh’s collections received the benefit from the focused attention of many leading professionals in the field.

“The program is a win-win for all concerned,” says Site Manager Pam Malcolm. “We are always looking for creative ways to leverage time and expertise for the betterment of the site. To be a laboratory for this kind of learning, while giving the collections expert attention and care, is a great arrangement.”