July news from State Parks

JULY 2021  •  Issue 66

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park

Updated Swimming Pool Reopens at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park

In time for the swimming season, State Parks reopened the rebuilt $30 million swimming pool at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in Westchester County. The largest pool in the Parks system, the 1.3 million-gallon pool was originally built in the early 1960s and needed an upgrade.

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park

The new pool was built within the footprint of the original pool, and now includes 26 water spray features, as well as modernized water filtration, new restrooms, renovated concessions and lifeguard locker room, and refurbished lawn and new shade trees.

The project was funded by State Parks capital funding and $4.5 million from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Press Release

NY State Parks Merchandise

Parks Swag Available at New Online Store

There is a new way to show your love of New York’s outdoors. The State Parks Online Merchandise store is now live.

Stocked with Park-themed items from short and long sleeve tee shirts to cozy hoodies, embroidered caps, fun glassware, camp mugs, notecards and more, the shop has something for everyone.

While not all Parks and Historic Sites are included in the debut collection, new items will be offered on a regular basis, and in the near future “Park of the Month” promotions will be added to expand the variety of visitor favorites.  The collection is only available online. Don’t miss out – order today as a gift or treat for yourself!  NY State Parks Store

Gorgeview Trail

Niagara Falls State Park Grows Along Niagara River

Niagara Falls State Park has undergone the largest expansion since its 1885 creation with the removal of more than two miles of the underutilized Niagara Scenic Parkway, formerly the Robert Moses Parkway, from along the Niagara River.

The $50 million project created a stunning "Gorgeview" area in the park that encompasses about 140 acres of green space with picnic areas and scenic overlooks, as well as five miles of new multi-use trails. These trails connect to a nearly 20-mile trail network from the upper Niagara River to Artpark in Lewiston.

The project also reconstructed local streets to accommodate local vehicular access from the parkway and adjoining city streets. New street lighting, landscaping, traffic control devices, pedestrian crosswalks, on-street parking areas, drainage improvements and upgrades to entrance drives and park trolley paths around the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center also were among the improvements. Press Release


Parks Launches Camper Loyalty Program

Thousands of people have already signed up for the new Camping Rewards Program. The program offers points for overnight stays at all State Parks and Department of Environmental Conservation campgrounds. Points are redeemable against the cost of future camping reservations. Enrollment is open, visit ReserveAmerica.com

Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park

Expansion Begins At Finger Lakes Gilded Age Historic Site

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul kicked off a $6.1 million expansion project for a new entrance and gateway at Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park in the Finger Lakes.

Expected to finish next spring, initial work will add a new gateway and realign entry into the park, located in the city of Canandaigua, Ontario County. Subsequent work will renovate a former U.S. Army Reserve armory into a new visitors' center, café, and educational space with improved parking for the site, which is a late-19th century Victorian Estate with a Queen Anne-style mansion, greenhouse complex, and nine historic themed gardens of the world.

The project was enabled by an earlier Parks' purchase of 1.6 acres and donation of the 3.5-acre armory parcel to Parks by the U.S. Army. So far, the project is supported by $1 million from two state Community Funding Application (CFA) grants, as well as more than $300,000 from an ongoing fundraising campaign by the not-for-profit Friends of Sonnenberg group that operates the site. Press Release

Pier 76

Parks Reshapes Manhattan Pier As Recreational/Cultural Site

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo headlined a grand opening of a revamped Pier 76 as a new recreational and cultural space on Manhattan's westside Hudson shoreline.

A 245,000 square-foot former New York City police impound lot on the pier was partially dismantled, leaving behind a structural steel skeleton to serve as innovative open space, which immediately hosted outdoor screenings for the reimagined Tribeca Film Festival.

Completed in just 81 days, the $31 million Parks project also included environmental abatement, repaving, and installation of railings and lighting. Nineteen interpretive panels relay the history of the area, including the indigenous Lenape people of Mannahatta and the evolution of the city’s shipping industry. The pier also features a 30-ton propeller from the passenger liner SS United States, which in 1952 set the Atlantic crossing speed record for passenger liners.

The pier is now under the control of the Hudson River Park Trust, an independent board that will oversee a long-term development plan for the pier. Press Release

Fahnestock State Park

Fahnestock State Park in the Hudson Valley Improves Trail Access

Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid helped open new parking and trail access at Fahnestock State Park and the Appalachian Trail in the Hudson Highlands of Putnam County.

The $5 million project was supported by the not-for-profit Open Space Institute (OSI) through a generous contribution from the Topfield Foundation supported by prominent Hudson Valley conservationist and philanthropist, Anne Perkins Cabot. 

Under the project, a new trailhead and 25-car parking lot is now open off State Route 301 west of Canopus Lake, which will reduce current hiker parking along the busy highway. The project also includes a second new trailhead and 15-car parking lot off Route 301 for the nearby Appalachian Trail, as well as park gateway signage at US Route 9 and the Taconic State Parkway. Press Release


Find a Job at State Parks!

State Parks are a great place to work! There are permanent jobs, for competitive positions, which are filled through civil service examinations, and non-competitive positions, as well as seasonal positions.

Parks is a welcoming and inclusive place to work and reflects our mission as a place for everyone to visit of every age, ability, color, or creed. Learn more about potential Parks employment at:  Parks.ny.gov/employment.

Thousand Islands Region

1,000 Islands But No Boat?

The 1,000 Islands on the St. Lawrence River are a water lover’s paradise but being without a boat doesn’t have to stop the fun. State Parks has teamed up with the locals to provide insider tips for getting out on the water and enjoying this incredibly scenic region without your own vessel.  Ahoy! Learn more at: Visit1000islands.com

Geocaching Coin, Thacher State Park

Seek and You Might Find: Geocaching in State Parks

Geocaching is a global hobby in which participants use satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates to hide small containers of trinkets (called caches) so that others can use those coordinates kept online to find the items and leave behind more. State Parks is again hosting a Geocache Challenge this summer, covering 56 parks and historic sites in Central New York, the Saratoga-Capital Region, and the Hudson Valley, where more than 230 caches have been concealed.

A State Parks special “geocoin” left in a cache during the 2015 Park challenge that can be tracked online has so far traveled more than 160,500 miles around the world. Learn more about this family-friendly hobby, this year’s Park challenge, and how to qualify to receive a trackable geocoin in the New York State Parks Blog post: Seek and You Might Find: Geocaching in NY State Parks. The blog features weekly posts on a variety of historical, natural, and other Parks topics.

NY State Parks Staff

Behind the Scenery

Kimbrie Cullen, Education Coordinator, Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, Wellesley Island State Park

How long have you been with the agency? I started working for Parks in the summer of 2000 as a summer naturalist, and in 2006 I was hired for the Environmental Education Assistant position at Minna Anthony Common Nature Center.

What does someone in your position do?  I develop and teach curriculum that follows state science standards for local school districts. I train seasonal staff, Student Conservation Association members, and volunteers to be able to teach our specialized curriculum for school field trips. I develop programs for campers, scout troops, and local families, and work with environmental groups and community groups.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen or done? A few years back I had a summer seasonal naturalist come up to me and told me that I was his teacher when he was in third grade. He told me that during his school field trip I inspired him to go into the field. This made me feel very old, however also overwhelmed with joy.

I have also seen children so terrified about being outdoors, that they would be full of tears getting off the school bus. By the time the school leaves they have fallen in love with nature, and don’t want to leave. That to me is so gratifying and the coolest thing I could see.

Is there a destination you’d recommend to someone?  The Minna Anthony Common Nature Center trail system is so beautiful, with a huge diversity of wildlife! The Cottage Trail is an easy one-mile hike, with a beautiful wetland. The trail has a boardwalk that goes through it. I often take groups to that boardwalk to sit and listen to wetland wildlife.

Ridge Trail is rocky but gives a bird’s eye view of an old wetland. I have spotted so many species of wildlife on that trail including deer, raccoon, and fisher. This is a great spot to sit to have a snack and watch the wildlife.

What inspired you to work in the park system? I honestly accidentally fell into this field. I had dreams of being an elementary teacher. I was working for parks during the summer while I was going to college to get my teaching degree. I realized that working at a nature center was what I wanted to do. I was fortunate enough to be able to find a job that I truly love.