The campaign for Thacher Park

Indian Ladder view

The view from the Indian Ladder Trail in Thacher Park.

Updated at 5:30 pm -- new Facebook pages added

John Boyd Thacher State Park -- and the Victoria Pool at Spa State Park -- might be closed because of state budget cuts. Or they might not.

It's hard to say, because there's been no public declaration by the state that Thacher and other state parks are facing the budget axe. But the signs seem to be pointing in that direction.

thacher park indian ladder trail lower

The word about Thacher's potential closure seems to have first surfaced in Fred LeBrun's column two weeks ago and then again more specifically this past weekend. He doesn't cite any sources, but reports that both Thacher and Victoria Pool are on a list of possible closures -- and "it will take extraordinary measures to save" Thacher Park. (LeBrun also reports that Peebles Island State Park in Cohoes and a bunch of parks in Rensselaer County are also on the list.)

Today's Troy Record includes word from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, a spokeswoman for which says, "There is no list [of parks] that has been established." And @ps_saratoga also reports today that the parks office says "it would be misleading to the public to say there is a plan to close" the Victoria Pool. The agency told the Gazette today that it's doing a "park-by-park review" and will have a decision soon.

The Paterson administration's budget plan for environment and energy does mention the possibility of "potential service reductions or facility closures." (It's all the way at the bottom.) Last week the state parks commissioner told the Buffalo News that "there is no way for us to get around park closings" this year. And Albert Caccese -- the current executive director of Audubon New York and former executive with the parks office -- projected in the Buffalo News this weekend that the planned cuts will "will require the closure of major attractions like Robert Moses State Park on Long Island and Thatcher Park in the Capital District."

Fans of Thacher Park aren't waiting to find out, though. Multiple Facebook pages have popped up to to rally support for the park -- one with more than 11,000 fans (!), another with more than 3,700 and the other with more than 700. The pages are collecting testimonials and recommendations for action. (There's a Twitter feed, too.) And Victoria Pool has the aptly named Save the Victoria Pool Society.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Hiking the Indian Ladder Trail at Thacher Park
+ Thacher Park pool stagnant

photos: Kathie Dello


Any word about the Peerless Pool, only a few "blocks" away from Victoria? It's much bigger and "funner", but most likely more costly to maintain, and is therefore closed more often than her sister during summer. Strange that they would close the smaller one...

I probably should read the articles (!), but what does "closing" Thacher Park mean exactly? Stop maintaining the pool, picnic areas, parking spots, etc? I assume they wouldn't close public access though, there is a lot to hike there.

Hopefully this is much ado about nothing, but needless to say, the closure of any of these parks would be devastating.

Typical reaction from an out of control bloated government.

Threaten to cut things people love as the only solution instead of dealing with teh actual problem, the swollen ranks of state employees, and an infinity of bureaucratic waste.

I worked at Grafton Lakes State Park for 5 years during both my high school and college careers. It saddens me to the deepest part of my heart to think not only of Thatcher park closing but also GLSP.

In recent years the parks have become a refuge and "staycation" for many families that cannot afford to travel out of the state or even out of their county. So our solution to help the state is to close the parks? Really?

My brother plans to lifeguard there this summer upon his return from college and when I told him of the news he was confused and angered at the fact that the job he had lined up could be pulled out from underneath him.

I think that the community should not only be rallying to save Thatcher, though it is a great park, but also the smaller parks.

There are actually 2 groups on facebook, one that already has over 11,00 fans.

Editors: Thanks! The post has been updated.

@-S In regards to what "closing" probably means - putting gates up at the main access roads to the park, removing all staff, rangers, police. Yes, no public access. Most likely, if you were caught tresspassing at the park, you would face a fine and be told that you were not allowed to visit any other state parks for the year (This is what happened to my friends when they went on the Indian Ladder trail during a time of year when it was "closed"). I guess your name is put on a list or something - I don't know how effective that really is.

Also, someone pointed this out on the facebook group, but Thacher park (with it's cliffs and hiking trails on cliffs) could be quite a liability for the State if they chose to remove ALL staff. I don't know much about tresspassing laws, but in general it doesn't seem like a smart thing to do.

It would be a real shame to loose Grafton and Thacher Parks. Where are people supposed to go for hiking or being outdoors in this area?

Tell you what. Instead of cutting funds for Thacher and other parks, why not cut some of your salaries? I'm not in New York to do anything about it, but many people I know are. Maybe they'll cut your salaries to zero come election time. By the way, thanks for giving us sooo much time to stick up for our parks!

Scott Tilmont
Once in New York, now in Maine. Where we know how to treat our state parks.

If they don't have the money to keep the park open, why don't they just stop staffing it and let the community form groups to keep up the trails. Let it be a forever wild area that anyone can access. That's the way it should be anyway. Those parks belong to all of us and it would be ridiculous for the government to charge us with trespassing on our own land just because it can't keep its finances in order.
When are we the people going to stop letting OUR government get away with this horrible behavior?

I agree, all of the parks should be saved. However, for me and my family, Thacher is the most important. That is why we have chosen to focus our efforts there. I sincerely hope others will rally for the parks *they* hold the most dear.

As a 'frequent frequenter' of both Grafton and Thacher, I am really truly baffled about how they would close off access to both parks.

Grafton - if you know the area, there are a dozen ways to enter the park proper if you look beyond the main and winter entrances, including but not limited to three good climbs from the Pittstown State Forest right smack dab into the park.

Thacher - same issues, but you also have the Long Path trail running through several sections of the park. How can you "close" that down? Also, what about the newer parts of the park that are separated from the park proper and are co-run/owned(?) by the Open Space Institute (what I and others call the Ryan and Carrick Road trails). I have rarely seen any DEC police there and there are no gates. Again, there are many entrances to these trails as well.

@Scott: to my knowledge, which is admittedly limited, I believe Paterson has already asked the State Workers Unions to allow the workers to forgo their blanket raises and bonuses this year. No dice.

@ Summer, Paterson has asked only management confidential (M/C) workers to forfeit their raises. Collective bargaining agreements make it legally impossible to force PEF, CSEA and other unionized workers to give up their annual raises. I think M/C workers are only a small portion of the total state govt. workforce. I did hear that the Governor's staff budget has increased significantly...

Either way, the closure of the state parks is unbelievably reckless and stupid for the reasons cited above. I hope folks also are aware of the many other endangered state parks in our area aside from Thacher. Schodack Island, for instance, is a real gem -- it has some ten miles of trails and a beautiful boat launch and picnic area, and is just minutes south of Albany. Our government leaders are losing their bearings if they think these parks are expendable in order to salvage an atomic fraction of the budget deficit.

The site above is a link to a petition that's merely 26 hours old and already has over 1650 signatures to save the park. I encourage everyone to sign it and pass the link along to anybody who would sign it also!!!

This is so sad! This was (obviously) one of my favorite places in the Capital Region. I may live in a place with, uh, 30 something trails within the city's zip code, but I still miss Thacher dearly!

New York's natural resources are way too beautiful to be shuttered.

I would like to thank everyone who joined my group.. with more than 18,000 fans now, I have spread the word to over 12,000 people that didnt know about this crisis.. because of me, their is 2,500 signatures to save this beautiful park..

Closing all the parks and removing all the staff is a liability for every park in the state. What about a park deems it expendable? The cost of upkeep? I bet Central Park is really, very expensive to maintain but they would never, ever close that park. This is just outrageous!

When will the final decision be made?

I do agree with the overall sentiment that closing parks is about the last thing you want to be doing, but it does draw attention to the economic problem. More likely would be dramatically curtailing the programs available at the parks, and instituting or increasing fees.

Closing Thatcher by 'putting gates up at the main access roads to the park' would be a real trick since the main access roads are through county and/or state roads.,-74.028282&sspn=0.097744,0.175953&ie=UTF8&radius=4.47&rq=1&ev=zi&hq=thatcher+park&hnear=&ll=42.637368,-74.028282&spn=0.097744,0.175953&z=13&iwloc=A

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I blogged this over at the front page of The Albany Project. Seems to getting the bulk of the comments. My own personal take is there.

Thank you for providing updated information; I've linked your page to mine for interconnectedness purposes. Keep up the good work!

There is a third facebook page that has information about planned action, including our protest on March 3rd at the capitol:

Cut the fat, not the beauty.

What is our state government thinking- closing its citizen's parks? New Yorkers are discouraged enough. Families hit by hard times go to these beautiful park for very little cost and with great reward to the spirit. My children learned a life long love of nature at Thatcher Park, especially, as will children of the future. We must protest loudly and publicly at the rally on March 3rd.

i have gone there all my life. i am 65 and still love to walk the would be a great loss.

To close al these parks in a way to limit big Liability issues, it would cost way to much $$$$$$. They would have to still employ people to watch the parks when a fence goes up. In ten years when the state finally uses their head and straitens up the financial mess we are in, they will spend ten times what they saved to open these parks back up. Come on please to our lovely politicians, don't close these precious pieces of Mother Nature.


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