McEneny sounds off on state’s proposal
The grassroots movement to keep Thacher Park open will be continuing its efforts by hosting a two-day rally called Thacher Day Out on Saturday, March 27, and Sunday, March 28, at the park.
`It’s being organized through the Facebook group ‘2000 to Save Thacher Park,’ which is actually at 36,000,` said Chris Bonham, one of the event’s organizers. The 2000 to Save Thacher Park group is the same one that organized the Wednesday, March 3, protest that took place outside the Capitol building following the governor’s announcement that budget cuts could result in the closing of the popular park.
The event drew dozens of protesters, and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, D-Setauket, chairman of the New York State Assembly’s Committee on Tourism, and John McEneny D-Albany, were speakers.
According to Bohnam, the Thacher Day Out rally will include a picnic, a band, and additional speakers advocating to keep the park open.
`This rally is to show awareness and gain support to save not only Thacher Park, but all state parks and historical sites,` said Bonham.
The rally is being held in response to the Friday, Feb. 19, announcement by Gov. David Paterson and the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation that 41 of its 178 parks, including Thacher, and 14 of its 38 historic sites will be closed as a result cuts made to the department in the executive budget.
`We didn’t even have a chance to discuss the matter with the state government. The state just came out and said this is what we are going to do,` said Bohnam.
Bohnam said that is particularly troubling with Thacher Park, because, ultimately, John Boyd Thacher gave the park to the people of the state, not the state government.
While the grassroots movement started on social networking sites, Albany legislators have taken notice.
`They are doing an excellence job,` said McEneny of the orgainzers.
He specifically mentioned the group placing signs along the parade route during the Saturday, March 13, St. Patrick’s Day parade in downtown Albany.
McEneny and Englebright met with Carol Ash, commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation, on Monday, March 15, to make their case to keep parks open.
`I’d be disappointed in myself if I can’t get Thacher Park open,` said McEneny.
McEneny said that depending on whether the state decides to use money from the environmental protection fund, keeping the parks open would cost between $6 and $12 million, an amount that it would easily make up for through tourist dollars.
He also called the state’s proposal `terribly shortsighted.` He said removing the park’s personnel and prohibiting law-abiding citizens from using the park will invite undesirable activity in the park, such as graffiti on the Helderberg Escarpment.