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Bill to reopen parks passed, Hawley voted no because it 'increases taxes on businesses'

By Billie Owens

Assemblyman Steve Hawley announced last week that the Downstate Assembly Majority "under the cover of darkness at 3 a.m." introduced legislation to reopen state parks and historic sites which were closed due to budget constraints.

In a press release, Hawley said he could not vote in favor of the bill, however, "due to its proposed $14.9 million tax increase on businesses and manufacturers, an $800,000 additional cost to Kodak, and the sweeping of the Environmental Protection Fund to the General Fund, instead of making the necessary cuts in state spending."

He says the bill will also be harmful to the agricultural industry since it will reduce funding for farmland protection and soil and water conservation.

"I have advocated for the reopening of state parks throughout the budget process, but this legislation and its increased burden on employers will only discourage job creation, while also setting a precedent for Albany to sweep state funds to close budget gaps,” Hawley said.

Bob Harker

Hawley and I do not always see eye to eye, but he's 100% right on this. We need to prioritize, and unfortunately, a walk in the park is not anywhere near as important as a HUGE reduction in spending, less taxes - not more, and helping businesses grow and not strangling them with even more taxes.

Jun 1, 2010, 3:52pm Permalink
Ronald Konieczny

We have many industrial parks established by various County Industrial Developement Agencies that have only one tenant or possibly no tennants now because the first one either closed, was squeezed out financially or just left for better pastures elswhere.

The business climate in NYS is far beyond bearable. Simple business existance and profit are illiterate words to them. Thank you NYS for really giving us the golden boot instead of the golden egg. Cash cow has been rubbed in its own manure by some mega gem assemblymen in Albany. These guys are real beauties. And to think that some day, they're going to receive a NYS Pension and possibly other pensions on top of that so they can live on easy lake side drive.

Thank you for trying Steve, but you honestly know that their constituents will put these jerks back in office.

"You are appreciated Steve."

P.S. How did Assemblyman Dan Burling vote?

Jun 1, 2010, 8:15pm Permalink
Tammy Way

As usual our state is run by those with money and more money -- you see many folks like the state parks because we don't have a summer cottage at Marthas Vineyard or Florida. Taking the family to a state park may be our summer vacation!! Where are all the prisioners that should be doing community srevice to clean up parks and help maintain them. As it is I take any trash out that I carry in. Come on big wigs be more creative in your ways. There are still people that aren't rich in NYS.

Jun 2, 2010, 11:28am Permalink
Chris Charvella

NYS parks create $1.9 Billion in economic output and create roughly 20,000 jobs. I think maybe Mr. Hawley isn't seeing the forest for the trees.

A few short weeks ago, Hawley called the park closures, 'another example of New York City elected officials trying to shut down the economies and the lifestyles of upstate New York.' Now he doesn't seem to want them re-opened because they cost money to operate.

He also received a letter from the NYSTVA that touted the record 59 million visitors to state parks in 2009, the letter also claimed that 59 million visitors should 'stand on its own' and that 'When people visit these sites they spend money in our communities at our restaurants and at our gas stations. These parks and historic sites are vital to the tourism industry'

Mr. Hawley claims to be pro-business, but chooses to ignore the massive effect that these parks have on local economies.

Claiming to be fiscally conservative just doesn't work when you vote against measures that generate millions of dollars in revenue.

Jun 2, 2010, 12:27pm Permalink
John Roach

Maybe ripping off the Environmental Protection Fund is not the way to fund the parks? And maybe, just maybe, the $15 million in new taxes might hurt us?

Jun 2, 2010, 12:38pm Permalink
Dave Olsen

Again, I'm not interested in being Steve Hawley's defender, but this state is in such a fiscal quagmire, that right now it's damned if you do and damned if you don't. The legislators are all going to try to slide by until November by not doing anything that will cut funds from anyone. I can't even get angry anymore, just disgusted. We really do need a constitutional convention and a new way of running the state.

Jun 2, 2010, 12:41pm Permalink

I wonder how everyone will feel if Kodak lays off anonther couple hundred people because of this.

I'm not defending Hawley, but I don't disagree with him either. There are other ways that could have gone into doing this. The problem is that we don't dare come up with ideas, we just increase taxes and fees.

I love our Public Parks. Am I to really understand that there is no other way to have them, but increasing taxes? None at all?

Jun 2, 2010, 12:57pm Permalink
Chris Charvella

They could increase the fee to use the parks but then another group of people would be crying bloody murder. Somebody has to suck it up, state parks are an economy and employment driver for Upstate New York.

My take on this is that opening the parks, however they choose to get it done, is better for the overall economy of NYS than keeping them closed.

Jun 2, 2010, 1:04pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

It makes sense to me that when our state government goes broke you have to blame and punish the businesses and people that live here. After all you still get paid (government) and no citizens have enough power (money) to vote you out. "shit rolls downhill" but in our state it actually rolls upstate !

Jun 2, 2010, 1:22pm Permalink
John Roach

You make it sound like every park was going to be closed, which of course is not true. The vast majority would stay open, including Darien State Park.

You have to love the irony of CM, being a member of the Green Party and probably your Dem.candidate to run against Hawley, having to endorse using the Environmental Protection Fund to keep some parks open

Jun 2, 2010, 1:26pm Permalink
Dave Olsen

Except, Chris, maybe if they did let the parks close, more people would get upset and demand that they figure out the budget and stop dilly-dallying.

Jun 2, 2010, 1:29pm Permalink
Chris Charvella

Sure, to hell with using practicality as a temporary fix to a real problem, let's just hurl epithets toward Downstate as we sink with the ship.

If you're not a part of the solution...

Jun 2, 2010, 1:29pm Permalink
Chris Charvella

Dave, I'd sign up for that if it weren't for the reality of a seasonal industry that creates tens of thousands of jobs directly and even more indirectly in our state. The major reason unemployment tends to fall dramatically during the warm months here is seasonal business, much of which is driven by parks and tourism.

Jun 2, 2010, 1:32pm Permalink
Dave Olsen

I hear you,Chris but isn't part of the problem that the state legislature gets away with being so damn inept because they are masters at placating groups of people at exactly the right time? As opposed to fixing the problems.

Jun 2, 2010, 1:37pm Permalink
Chris Charvella

Dave, that's a question to be answered in November. Right now there are issues that need to be addressed that are vital to the economy of New York State. This bill wasn't perfect, but it's going to let the parks generate some much needed income and create jobs around the state.

Jun 2, 2010, 1:45pm Permalink
John Roach

And how do you think they will replenish the Environmental Fund? Or will they continue to raid and deplete it like all the other supposed dedicated funds?

CM, where do you stand on this?

Jun 2, 2010, 2:05pm Permalink
Chris Charvella

John, C.M. already gave a press release.

If your solution to this problem is to sit in a chair with a thumb planted directly where the sun don't shine, then I'll take what's behind door number two, thank you very much.

Jun 2, 2010, 2:11pm Permalink
Dave Olsen

Chris; I hope that does get answered in November. In the meantime, like I said I'm afraid they'll just keep putting out fires and trying to slide through. I'm reminded of a quote from PJ O'Rourke " The government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul" These guys then rob Paul to keep Peter from kicking their asses. I hope everyone wises up.

Jun 2, 2010, 2:25pm Permalink
John Roach

So we have the local Democratic Party Election Chairman endorsing higher business taxes, higher cost to Kodak and raiding dedicated funds to keep parks open rather than make spending cuts.

There are a number of redundant park related agencies (Adirondack Park Agency, Battery Park City Authority, Hudson River Park Trust, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation of NYS), that could be merged with the Parks Department. While a lot of patronage jobs would be eliminated, it would provide money to help keep the parks open without raising taxes or raiding other funds. That’s just for a start.

Jun 2, 2010, 2:26pm Permalink
Chris Charvella

Your list doesn't get the parks open now. Taking a hard look at authorities and trusts is a part of the Democratic platform this year, but Like I said before, we can't do anything about that until November.

If this had gone the other way and they had increased fees for use of the parks, you'd be here raising hell about the Democratic Party being out of touch with Upstate citizens and foisting costs off on private citizens. Your high horse only has three legs and your soapbox is missing some boards.

Jun 2, 2010, 2:36pm Permalink
Richard Gahagan

Looky here get rid of all state park employees and designate the parks as state lands and let people go there and do whatever they want.

Jun 2, 2010, 2:41pm Permalink
John Roach

Merging government operations does not have to wait on the budget. They could have done that late last year, when the budget process was legally supposed to start, or even the year before. But, that would mean smaller government, right?

And "taking a hard look" is what they say every year.

Jun 2, 2010, 2:48pm Permalink
Chris Charvella

I'll remind you again John, that Andrew Cuomo wrote the legislation that made shrinking local governments easier in New York State. He'll be bringing that mindset and that agenda with him to the governor's mansion, bet on it.

Jun 2, 2010, 2:53pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

Where is the cost to run a state park...Is it in the number of employees it takes..I believe it is like John says..All patronage jobs..Funny how this all comes up right now during the summer..There is alot of waste in the park system that needs to be addressed..Been a problem for a long time..Look at some of the salary's of these so called park officials ...Upper management in the park system is what they should cut..The school districts does the same thing,cut the teachers save and the high paying management jobs..So lets just keep on taxing....Drive all the business you can out of New York..Way to go Democrats..Where is the budget..Chris, the democrats created this budget crises .It is their fault the parks were not going to be able to open...Even you said it was not a perfect bill,,I think you all said that about health care reform..Why pass something that is not perfect..
Why should we elect more Democrats in Nov.Just so that we keep on going in the same direction we are going now..

Jun 2, 2010, 2:54pm Permalink
Chris Charvella

Mark, you have a short memory. It's not the Democrats or the Republicans that have ruined NYS. It's the system that both parties have adopted and adhered to over many, many a year.

And trust me when I say this, the local Republican Party has absolutely NO INTEREST in doing away with patronage jobs. I don't need to mention any names or employers to get that point across, I'm sure.

Jun 2, 2010, 3:02pm Permalink
kevin kretschmer

"If this had gone the other way and they had increased fees for use of the parks...."

That happened last month. The State raised the entrance fees to the parks. They also increased the cost of cabin rentals and camping rates.

Jun 2, 2010, 3:34pm Permalink
Chris Charvella


A Look At The Fee Increases:

The fee increases include:

Golf Courses: Greens fees will increase various amounts depending on the course. The fee at Bethpage Black, home of the 2009 U.S. Open, will increase $15 per round, from $60 to $75 on weekends and from $50 to $65 on weekdays. Other courses will increase no more than $3 per round.

Ocean Beaches Vehicle Use Fee: The fee will increase from $8 per vehicle to $10 per vehicle at parks with ocean swimming beaches.

"Flagship" Parks Vehicle Use Fee: Fees will increase from $6/$7 per vehicle to $8 per vehicle at parks with significant amenities and high visitation. They are: Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Bear Mountain, Belmont Lake, Bethpage, Captree, Caumsett, Connetquot, Fair Haven, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fort Niagara, Grafton Lakes, Green Lakes, Harriman/Lake Welch, Sebago and Tiorati, Hempstead Lake, Lake Taghkanic, Letchworth, Minnewaska, Montauk Point, Moreau Lake, Planting Fields Arboretum, Rockland Lake, Saratoga Spa, Southwick Beach, Valley Stream, Watkins Glen and Westcott Beach.

Out-Of-State Camping Surcharge: A surcharge of $5 per night on campsites and $25 per week on cottage and cabin rentals will be added for out-of-state visitors, bringing New York in line with many states in the Northeast that charge an out-of-state differential.

In addition, a mandatory vehicle entrance fee for the Walkway Over the Hudson parking lot in Poughkeepsie will be established at a later date. Voluntary donation boxes, prominently placed with "suggested donation" signage, will also be erected at the Walkway.

These increases weren't all that bad; maybe if they had done a little more in April we wouldn't be having this conversation today.

Jun 2, 2010, 3:44pm Permalink
Richard Gahagan

Maybe they should just cut you know get rid of all the tax sucking departments and programs. This system of taxing and spreading the wealth around amongst worthless goverment jobs to whoever whines or crys the loudest is goin down.

goin down


Jun 2, 2010, 3:55pm Permalink
kevin kretschmer

"These increases weren't all that bad..."

If you say so. However, based on the conversation I had with Roland Beck (Park Manager at Letchworth SP) about this when he informed me of the increases, he didn't see much upside to it. It is driving even more business to the private campgrounds outside the parks. I doubt that was the end result Albany was intending with this.

Jun 2, 2010, 4:06pm Permalink
Richard Gahagan

Albany runs the parks department like a job welfare program. Just tell all the lawnmowers to go home and manage it as state land instead of a park.

Jun 2, 2010, 4:41pm Permalink
Chelsea O'Brien

Why does the state need to run the parks? Why not privatize them? Contract out the labor, or the land, and in the lease agreement state what needs to be done: roadways, grass a foliage kept in order, it needs to be open for so many days, there need to be cabin rentals and camping areas. Have those companies hire labor, charge entrance fees, and keep up the land.

What about having festivals on more park lands? Like arts and crafts festivals, charge vendors $20 a booth, and visitors $1 to enter.

What about putting on christmas light displays or having winter festivals in the off-season, once again having small charges to keep the parks self-sustaining.

Or what about involving the communities? Have churches or other organizations donate time, labor, and money to keep their parks open.

I guess there is no creativity left in Albany.

Jun 2, 2010, 5:07pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Posted by Chelsea Dobson on June 2, 2010 - 5:07pm
What about having festivals on more park lands? Like arts and crafts festivals, charge vendors $20 a booth, and visitors $1 to enter.

Have you ever been to the craft show at Letchworth State Park? It is one of the biggest shows around and one of the most well attended?

Each of the vendors pays and each car that enters the park pays as well. I'm sure there are other parks that do the same.

Jun 2, 2010, 5:19pm Permalink

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