Hunter officials ask to keep park open

Devil's TombstoneFrom Colin DeVries in Windham Journal:

In an effort to save a key piece of the Mountaintop’s economic puzzle, county and local officials are rallying to keep the Devil’s Tombstone Campground open through 2010. A county resolution was unanimously approved Wednesday requesting that New York State reconsider closing the Devil’s Tombstone Campground in Hunter….The campground, located amidst Route 214’s Stony Clove, has been slated for closure along with six others throughout the state due to a massive $8 billion state budget deficit. “The North-South Lake and Devil’s Tombstone campgrounds bring people here from outside of region and the state,” said Michael McCrary, president of the Town of Hunter Chamber of Commerce. “If they close the campground we can’t put it in any of our promotions.” Officials are now rallying to come up with solutions to keep the campground open… Another alternative posed was the use of national service groups to maintain the campground and keep it operating, particularly the federal Corporation of National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps program. Read the entire story at Windham Journal.

DEP opens public lands

From Watershed Post:

This just in from the DEP: The agency that polices New York City’s upstate watershed will open 12,000 acres of city-owned watershed land to recreation. A total of 71,000 DEP-owned acres in the New York City watershed are now open to the public, according to a press release from the agency.

The 71,000 acres includes approximately 30,000 acres of property designated Public Access Areas which were opened in the last three years, where public hiking, fishing, hunting and trapping is allowed without DEP permits. The remaining acres require a DEP permit for access.

Hudson, Athens get boat launch funds

The New York Environmental Protection Fund’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program will provide $38,542 for the city of Hudson to construct a canoe/kayak launch at the southern end of Henry Hudson Riverfront Park with a secure storage rack for canoes/kayaks will be provided and $22,500 for the village of Athens to construct a dockage system for non-motorized boaters to complete its Fourth Street boat launch, The Business Review (Albany) reports.

Cairo Nature Center called ‘political football’

What sort of town does not want volunteers to create a park? Cairo, apparently. Susan Campriello in The Daily Mail reports on last Thursday’s Cairo Town workshop meeting, where the Cairo Nature Center Committee met with the Town Board. The Nature Center opened two years ago, and then the town closed it for a year to argue about what sort of permit process should be instituted, eventually closing the park off to everyone except Cairo town residents who pay a $15 fee. Earlier this summer a bridge railing in the Nature Center was broken and someone left some trash in the facility, which features hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and fishing spots in a reservoir. The small bit of vandalism caused Town Board members Ray Suttmeier and Rich Lorenz to complain that Nature Center was a gigantic headache for the town. At the meeting Thursday, Cairo Nature Center Committee members Michael Esslie, Jim Little, and committee Chairman Neil Schoenfeld disagreed. “Since this place has been open it has been nothing but a political football,” he said. Some of the Nature Center volunteers have also been working to rehab the St. Edmund’s Chapel as a town facility, and Cairo Town Supervisor John Coyne used the town meeting to complain about the tone of a letter from that group, a letter bemoaning how the town government also was trying to stop that project. Suttmeier, at previous town board meetings, said he illegally visited the Nature Center without getting the proper permit. Schoenfeld, who is also working to turn former railroad tracks in the town into a nature trail, is just about ready to give up all his work to benefit the Town of Cairo, just as the Town Board seemingly wants. This Sunday he will help host an Eco-Faire in the town park.

UPDATE: The Greenville Press (no web site to link to) weighs in on the issue with the best headline ever for Cairo politics: “Another project, another roadblock.” Linda L. Fenoff quotes Town Board members Rich Lorenz and Ray Suttmeier complaining after the park has been created that the location along the county’s main highway, Rt. 23, is too remote.