A series of announcements over the last couple of months by the Governor and State Parks have meant good news for two of the state’s flagship parks and major tourist draws. The projects include exciting efforts to breathe new life into Jones Beach and Niagara Falls.
Jones Beach State Park and its 6.5 miles of beautiful white-sand beach on the Atlantic Ocean is one of the most heavily visited state parks, welcoming more than 63 million visitors over the last decade. But all those visitors coupled with decades of underfunding have left many of the 85-year-old park’s facilities in need of a facelift.
In March, Governor Cuomo announced a five-year $65 million plan to restore and transform the park into an all-day tourist destination. The Jones Beach Revitalization Plan includes restoring the park’s historic and aesthetic grandeur, adding new and improved services and amenities, strengthening storm resiliency, expanding recreational opportunities, and streamlining park entry. Public meetings were held in May to provide the public with an opportunity to review and comment on the plan. See a Draft Conceptual Proposal.
If you’ve hit Jones Beach this summer, you may have noticed some of the improvements already underway or completed, including the restoration of the historic West Bathhouse and the addition of the SmorgasBar: Brooklyn by the Beach outdoor food court. The summer pilot will allow patrons to choose from four food and beverage vendors from Brooklyn Flea’s popular food market and take a break from the waves to play some ping pong, bocce and horseshoes.
Over $3.8 million will go towards restoration of Terrapin Point, one of two major observation areas overlooking the falls and the lower Niagara Gorge on the New York side. The improvements include making the site ADA-accessible, new pavements and railings, and new plantings to improve the experience of viewing Horseshoe Falls from this popular vantage point. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2015. See renderings of the improvements.
More than $5 million is slated for the rehabilitation of the plaza adjacent to the Cave of the Winds and Pavilion Building. A new comfort station and new information/ticket centers will be built, along with native plantings and new seating, pavement, and other improvements. Construction was scheduled to begin in May and will be phased in over the next few years. See renderings of these improvements.
The funding comes from the New York Power Authority which holds a license to operate the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant. State Parks’ Niagara River Greenway Fund made the awards. The projects are part of a multi-year, $25 million commitment to revitalize Niagara Falls State Park.
Over the past three years, New York has invested and helped leverage $265 million to rehabilitate and revitalize state parks and historic sites, with an additional $90 million approved in this year’s budget.