John Boyd Thacher State Park nabbed $3.8 million in state funding to build a new visitor center, which was a main element in the park’s recently completed master plan.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, April 22, announced the funding as one of the 69 projects to improve or repair 53 state parks and historic sites. Projects statewide received a total of $90 million, with the Capital District receiving $8.675 million for nine projects at five locations. The new visitor center at Thacher Park will feature new exhibits highlighting the parks history and geology, a multi-purpose space for the gatherings and visitor orientation services. Administration office space for park staff will also be included.
Chris Fallon, park manager at Thacher, said he was “thrilled” the state awarded funding for the new visitor center.
“We had been talking about it and were optimistic it would be put on the funding schedule, but to see it become official is thrilling,” Fallon said. “We really had no place to showcase an exhibit — all the great things about our history and geology — so this will enable us to do that.”
Fallon said the visitor’s center is needed because the main road into the park lacks an orientation spot for visitors. Unless someone has been to the park before, he said, they would not know where to go for information.
He said construction on the visitor’s center is expected to start later this year with a hopeful opening, next year.
The location of visitor center will allow visitors to take in the park’s views and easily access the nearby Indian Ladder Trail.
“It is going to be in a spot that takes advantages of some of the spectacular views we have here,” Fallon said.
Cuomo, who made the announcement on Earth Day, said the statewide investment shows commitment to parks and historic sites.
“New York is proud to have the nation’s oldest state park system, and we will continue to do all that we can to preserve and guard these natural resources so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said the funding would help make “much needed repairs,” along with preserving our heritage, connecting people with recreation opportunities and “rev the engines of local economies.”
Another area site receiving funding is Saratoga Spa State Park, which was awarded $1.775 million for four projects. Gideon Putnam Hotel Projects and Victoria Pool area improvements each total $500,000. The rehabilitation of the existing Geyser Creek Building to serve as an Environmental Education Building was awarded $375,000. The remaining funds would be used to expand bike paths.