February 21, 2010

Buttermilk Falls May See Cuts if Governor’s Budget Is Approved

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In an attempt to close New York state’s budget gaps, Gov. David Paterson released a budget proposal last month that could result in the closure of 41 of the state’s parks and 14 of its historical sites, according to the Ithaca Journal. The proposal seeks to cut $29 million in funding to the nation’s oldest state park system in order to begin closing the deficit in the Office of Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s budget. Ithaca’s Buttermilk Falls State Park faces significant cutbacks, and six other parks in the Finger Lakes area could be closed completely.

In addition to the 55 parks and historic sites that will be closed, a number of other state parks face major cutbacks, which include reduced operating hours, pool closings, reduced maintenance and golf course closings. The proposal calls for the closure of Buttermilk Falls’ swimming area, even though the Falls is often a major attraction for families vacationing in the Ithaca area. According to the Ithaca Journal, officals said that grass mowing, trail grooming and road plowing would all cease in areas where parks are facing closure, and buildings would be secured and locked.

Four of the state’s 178 parks are located in Tompkins Country: Robert H. Treman State Park, Allan H. Treman State Park, Taughannock Falls and Buttermilk Falls. Buttermilk Falls is the only park currently slated for funding cuts in Tompkins County. Even if the cuts that would close the Buttermilk Falls swimming area do take effect, the Office of Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation would still face another $20 million budgetary gap.

Paterson’s proposal would signal a 16 percent overall parks funding cut from the current fiscal year — which comes after a 40 percent funding decrease over the previous two fiscal years. The governor’s proposal would not take effect immediately, as it would have to be approved as part of the 2010-2011 budget. In order to get this approval, though, state lawmakers would first have to agree to the budget proposal and elect to adopt the changes.

Original Author: Keri Blakinger