OSWEGO, NY – As part of an agency-wide effort to achieve savings through operational reductions, Fort Ontario State Historic Site will not be opening this weekend for the season.
The announcement comes as New York State continues to face a historic fiscal crisis.
Objects used to furnish historic rooms in the officerâ€™s quarters have been moved to the barracks for safe keeping; these items will return to the officerâ€™s quarters if adequate funding is restored to address capital and operational needs.
Artifacts which are not related to the history of Fort Ontario will be moved to a climate controlled facility at Peebles Island State Historic Site in Waterford, NY, where they can be accessed if necessary.
These non-fort objects may be suitable for use at other historic sites and their transfer from the fort will allow them to be more appropriately stored.
Scheduled events including the June 11 Flag Day commemoration with local schools and the National Encampment of the Brigade of the American Revolution on Aug. 13-15 have been canceled.
Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,Iâ€”Pulaski) says theÂ Fort closure is “irresponsible” and could have been avoided with a budget.
Assemblyman BarclayÂ said today he is angered and disappointedÂ by news that Fort Ontario will be forced to close its doors next week.
Without a state budget in place, management at the Fort has been told by Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation officials that it needs to close due to lack of funds.
â€œWithout a state budget in place, the Fort officials have been told the state cannot afford the Fortâ€™s operating costs.Â Here again, weâ€™re faced with problems resulting from lack of a budget. Again, I urge my colleagues in the Assembly to organize themselves to hold joint conference committee meetings and pass a budget.â€
The park closure list, released by the Governorâ€™s office in February, has not been debated in the Legislature.
Fort Ontario was among those slated to be closed.
Until today, it was a proposed list but, according to Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation officials, because budget talks have stalled, the Department has decided to enact some of those proposed closures.
â€œI have strongly advocated in support of keeping the Fort open.Â I have forwarded more than 1,000 responses garnered from constituents from a survey my office conducted, urging the state to keep Fort Ontario open. I have written and conveyed the strong opposition to the Fortâ€™s closure to our Executive. The money the state will save in its Parks budget from closing the Fort pales in comparison to the revenue generated in sales tax from tourists who visit the Fort annually and the value of such an asset the local community would lose. Besides its economic benefits, visiting the Fort is an international, hands-on history lesson – something you canâ€™t put a price on.â€
Fort Ontario State Historic Site is one of six historic sites and eighteen parks in the Central Region administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Carol Ash â€“ Commissioner.
For more information about NYS Parks, visit www.nysparks.com