Posted: 10 Sep 2009 06:36 AM PDT
By LORI SHULL, Watertown Daily Times, link to original post
Jo-Ellen Bero, and 150 other people, would like a month of camping time restored to Coles Creek, but it’s just not going to happen.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced this spring that the summer schedules of 15 parks in the Thousand Islands Region would be altered because of budget cuts in Albany. However, Ms. Bero and dozens of others decided to try to change the state’s mind about closing Coles Creek State Park a month early.
“I guess Gov. Paterson strikes again,” Ms. Bero said in an e-mail. “With the economy the way it is today and the price of gas, hotel rates, admission to theme parks and the overall loss of jobs here in the north country, camping was something people could still afford to do with their families.”
Coles Creek will close Saturday, despite the petition and phone calls to the office of state Parks Commissioner Carol Ash and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, according to Mrs. Bero. Usually, it is open until Oct. 12. Jacques Cartier State Park, in Morristown, also is closing early, on Sept. 19.
Nine other parks around the region, which stretches from Lake Ontario north along the St. Lawrence River to Lake Champlain, closed Labor Day weekend. There are 30 parks in the region.
Despite the state’s decision to change the opening and closing times of many of its parks, some Coles Creek campers tried to get an exception for their habitual haunt.
“They’ve talked to everyone; I think they even got to the park commissioner,” said Loretta E. Castagnier, the bookkeeper at Coles Creek. “They’ve tried everything. Nothing seems to work. You can’t fight City Hall.”
Despite the efforts of north country residents and vacationers, the state did not make any modifications to the schedule.
“There have been expressions of disappointment,” said Eileen Larrabee, Albany spokeswoman for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. She said there were about a dozen phone calls about Coles Creek. “We tried to minimize the impact to users. We understand there are fiscal realities that we have to meet.”
In looking at the climate for next year’s budget, there is no assurance that the same cuts may not be made again, said Kevin A. Kieff, regional director for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
“It’s not our hope that it would become permanent, but we have to be realistic,” he said.
Coles Creek has been unusually busy so far this month, Mrs. Castagnier said. During the first week of September last year, the park had 883 campers. This year, there were 2,707 during that same week, according to the park’s records. Some of that increase may be due to a late Labor Day.
There are 25 campgrounds in the Adirondacks and the Catskills that will remain open until Oct. 11.Reprinted from the New York Outdoors Blog.
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