A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
The warm weather is finally here and with that comes the opportunity to visit our state beaches, historic sites and parks.
This year in the 2016-17 enacted state budget we continued our investment in New York’s parks and historic sites.
Over the past several years, the state has invested millions back into the state park system to preserve, make repairs, and enhance amenities to drive visitors back to our parks.
That investment is paying off and last year, attendance at our state parks reached nearly 65 million visitors.
This is a substantial increase compared to the attendance rates of 2006 when park visits were at 54 million.
Locally, in Central New York, we are fortunate to have a number of state parks, beaches and historic sites in our community.
The parks have a positive impact on our area’s quality of life and offer many recreational opportunities for residents.
In addition to the cultural and quality of life attributes, our state parks positively impact our communities through increased tourism.
Many small communities depend upon the seasonal tourism that the parks bring in and the increased traffic makes a big difference to local businesses.
What is unique about our region and sets our area apart from other areas is that we have a wide variety of state parks – all within driving distance.
Our region offers countless recreational opportunities for residents and visitors to go boating, fishing, camping, hiking golfing and swimming.
Central New York also has a number of historic sites to draw visitors and enthusiasts alike.
Given our many offerings, I wanted to share some information on our area’s parks.
If you are interested in swimming, hiking or camping, there are a number of parks nearby.
Selkirk Shores State Park will now offer swimming three times a week beginning June 24 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
This is welcome news for residents and visitors who traditionally enjoyed swimming in Lake Ontario waters at Selkirk, and were unable to in the recent past.
Thanks to continued work by local caretakers and state investments, swimming has been restored.
Mexico Point State Park offers lake views, swimming, trails and picnicking and is located on Mexico Point Drive in the town of Mexico.
Fair Haven State Beach park on Lake Ontario in Fair Haven offers playgrounds, camping, daily swimming, hiking, fishing, boating, picnicking and views of the bluffs along the lake.
Fair Haven in not in the CNY region – but is often a go to by locals.
Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville offers swimming, hiking, playgrounds, fishing, camping, boating and golfing.
This park is known for its glacial lakes surrounded by forests and hiking trails.
Sandy Island Beach State Park extends from the town of Richland, Oswego County, north along Lake Ontario to Jefferson County.
It’s part of the Eastern Lake Ontario Dune, the only significant freshwater dune site in the northeastern United States.
The park offers opportunities for hikers, birdwatchers, canoeists, kayakers and swimmers.
Walkovers and viewing platforms protect the fragile dune environment.
For those interested in history, Fort Ontario, located in the city of Oswego, is where historic battles from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 were fought.
A new interactive exhibit containing original uniforms, weapons, ammunition, tools, field furniture, hardware, artwork, photographs and archeological artifacts opened in May.
The fort is also the site of the only refugee camp for Holocaust survivors during World War II.
These events are so significant to our American history that there is an effort under way to have Fort Ontario and Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum designated as a national park.
Such a designation would bolster tourism further and create even more of a ripple effect in the surrounding local economy.
For the golf enthusiasts, Battle Island State Park in Fulton on Route 48, an 18-hole golf course located along the Oswego River and the site of a famous French and Indian War Battle which took place in 1756.
Frenchman Island State Park is a recently designated state park located at the west end of Oneida Lake in Constantia, but it is only accessible by boat.
The State Canal owns the lighthouse on the island and the island was previously the site of a mini-resort with a two-story inn and a bowling alley a century ago.
Many county and local parks are located within our area too, which offer additional opportunities for recreation, boating, hiking, picnicking, swimming and fishing.
Whether you’re traveling far or near this summer, I hope you’re able to take some time to enjoy the views and recreation offered at our state and local parks.
To find more parks across the state, visit http://nysparks.com/parks
If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.