September News, NY State Parks

NY State Parks

September 2020  •  Issue 60 

Sojourner Truth sculpture

New Statue at Walkway Over the Hudson State Park Honors 19th Century African American Abolitionist and Suffragist Sojourner Truth 

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul joined State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage by unveiling of a seven-foot bronze statue of eminent abolitionist and suffragist Sojourner Truth at Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Ulster County. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo commissioned the statue as part of an effort to more fully include and represent women and people of all races and creeds who have contributed to the history of New York State.

Created by Yonkers sculptor Vinnie Bagwell, the statue includes text, Braille and symbols to encourage viewers to walk around it and study its surface. The folds of Truth’s skirt act as a canvas to depict Sojourner's life experiences, including images of a young enslaved mother comforting her child, a slavery sale sign, images of her abolitionist peers, and a poster for a Women's Suffrage March.

Born enslaved in the Hudson Valley as Isabella Bomefree (Baumfree), she freed herself in 1826, one year before legal enslavement ended in New York. Naming herself Sojourner Truth, she became one of the nation's leading voices for abolition and universal suffrage in the 19th century.

In support of the installation, New York State Parks added educational content to its website, including information and videos on Sojourner Truth, Vinnie Bagwell's sculpture, the women's suffrage movement, and voter registration information. Learn more

Marsha P. Johnson State Park

State Park Dedicated To LGBTQ Pioneer

Governor Cuomo announced the dedication of the former East River State Park in Brooklyn for Marsha P. Johnson as the first State Park in New York to honor an LGBTQ person and transgender woman of color. Johnson was an LGBTQ civil rights activist and prominent figure in the Stonewall Uprising in 1969 at a Greenwich Village tavern that marked the modern start of the LGBTQ rights movement. She was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, an activist with ACT UP, and co-founded STAR. Johnson died in 1992 at age 46.

In connection with the renaming of Marsha P. Johnson State Park, State Parks installed the first phase of public art. Decorative perimeter fence entrance screening honors Marsha P. Johnson in two prominent locations: The North 8th Street main gate on Kent Avenue, and the corner of North 7th Street and Kent Avenue. Known for adorning herself with colorful flowers, the design reflects Marsha's style and colors. The park also placed interpretive signage outlining Marsha's life and her role in promoting LGBTQ rights and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS. The facility also will receive a new park house/education center, upgrade of signature festival grounds, and installation of public art celebrating Johnson’s life and her role in advancing LGBTQ+ rights. Learn more 

Gantry Plaza State Park

State Parks Partner Groups Receive $900,000 To Maintain and Promote Public Lands

Friends groups that help support State Parks have received $900,000 in grants to support their critical work in maintaining these open spaces for the public.

The Park and Trail Partnership Program grants are funded through the state Environmental Protection Fund and support partner group efforts to raise private funds for capital projects, perform maintenance tasks, provide educational programming, and promote public use of the parks through hosting of special events.

Established in 2015, the program has so far awarded $2.7 million to these volunteer groups to strengthen Parks, historic sites and public lands for years to come. Learn more

Susan B. Anthony House

State Parks Stabilizes Childhood Home of Suffragist Susan B. Anthony

On the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, State Parks and community leaders joined to celebrate a $695,000 stabilization project at the 19th century brick home in Washington County, where suffragist Susan B. Anthony spent part of her childhood.

Work at the deteriorated 1832 two-story brick home on Route 29 in Battenville where Anthony lived from ages 13 to 19 includes repairs to the roof, masonry and drainage, as well as mold remediation and water damage, is expected to be completed this fall.

State Parks has a purchase agreement on an adjoining four-acre site that contains a former historic tavern dating to the period when the Anthony family lived next door. Supported by the state Environmental Protection Fund, the $130,500 purchase will allow for future creation of adequate parking for the Anthony home and serve as a staging area for continued phased redevelopment of the building for an as-yet undetermined future use. Learn more

Roosevelt Bathhouse

Historic Roosevelt II Bathhouse at Saratoga Spa State Park Reopens After Decades of Disuse

Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid headed up the grand reopening of the historic Roosevelt II Bathhouse at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga County as part of a $2.3 million restoration project. First opened in 1935 by former New York governor and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the iconic Georgian Revival-style bathhouse had been closed since the 1980s.

The bathhouse's historic lobby has been restored, new restrooms installed, new heating, ventilation and plumbing systems added, and toxic asbestos removed. The center’s new coffee shop is being operated by Saratoga County-based Wired Coffee, which currently runs cafes in Malta and the city of Albany.

Future plans include use of a portion of the facility by the not-for-profit group COESA, which will offer retreat experiences and classes in personal well-being, leadership, meditation, professional wellness training, and work-life balance. Learn more

Letchworth State Park, Recreation Area

New Recreation Center Opens at Letchworth State Park

State Parks completed a new $2 million outdoor recreation center is opening at Letchworth State Park in Livingston and Wyoming counties. The new Lower Falls Recreation Area involved removal of an unused swimming pool at the South Complex Area, and restoration of a historic bathhouse that is used by the whitewater rafting concessionaire, Adventure Calls Outfitters.

The new recreation area provides table games, badminton and pickle ball courts, bocce and shuffleboard, as well as a fitness loop. The project was funded by the NY Parks 2020 capital initiative. Learn more

NY State Parks Explorer App

New State Parks Explorer Mobile App for Visitors

State Parks has launched a new mobile app for smart devices to provide visitors with information at their fingertips on destinations and activities.

The free New York State Parks Explorer App includes rotating curated content, as well as information on parks and historic sites, including directions, hours, amenities, fees and rates, trail maps, helpful know-before-you-go details, direct links to make camping reservations and the ability to receive important updates and alerts. Learn more

Jones Beach West Games Area

Gaming Area Improvements Open at Jones Beach State Park

Visitors at the iconic Jones Beach State Park on Long Island now can enjoy a newly renovated $6.6 million West Games Area, featuring a new mini-golf course, refurbished and new court games, new benches, tables, fencing and lighting, and additional site improvements.

Part of an ongoing revitalization of the historic Long Island park, the games area also includes new cornhole and pickleball courts as well as refurbished courts for shuffleboard and paddle tennis. Learn more

Park Staff

Behind the Scenery – Special Edition

Typically each Park Connect newsletter showcases an employee with an interesting or unique job in the park system, and features their background and favorite spots so readers can better know our staff, and our parks and historic sites.

This issue, instead of singling out an individual, we are taking this opportunity to give a shout-out to all the state park employees who have worked so tirelessly this spring and summer to provide safe and enjoyable settings for visitors during this challenging time. 

Whether lifeguarding at beaches and pools, volunteering to drive supplies, helping staff testing sites, cleaning and sanitizing park facilities, serving as social distancing ambassadors, welcoming campers, safeguarding our waterways, maintaining the golf courses, developing virtual nature education, and many other responsibilities, our park staff understands that the outdoors has taken on special significance for families this season, serving as a sanctuary and special place to spend time with loved ones.

Here are some highlights of their hard work. Photo Gallery