A $900 million project to revitalize New York's state parks, including Niagara Falls and Letchworth, is in full swing with the projects expected to be completed by 2020.
“They’re economic engines, especially in upstate. They are places where families come to recreate, enjoy the outdoors to get some peace in quiet in this hectic world. And they’re places for natural resources,” said Robin Dropkin, executive director of Parks and Trails New York.
Niagara Falls is currently in the middle of a $50 million project to update walkways, viewing areas, landscaping and lighting. Letchworth is working to update their plumbing systems, revamp their electrical system and construct a $5.75 million nature center.
Dropkin says the money is being spent wisely.
“It’s not a huge amount of money compared to the New York State budget. I think it’s a small percentage of a percent of the budget. So yes, we've got to fix education, yes we've got to fix the health care system and all these other things. But on the other hand, we can put $900 million in state parks and make a difference in people’s lives,” said Dropkin.
The director says advocates have been begging for upgrades for a number of years and certain structures haven’t been updated since the 1960s. As for right now Dropkin said progress is "unbelievable."
“Every couple months we see another great ribbon cutting of another facility, either a new nature center or a new campground or a new bathhouse facility or a new trail. It’s just great to see.”