Items tagged with 'parks'

Checking out the new Albany skate park

Albany skate park finished 2017-06-23

Check it out: The skate park in Albany's Washington Park is now open. Construction just finished up, and Friday afternoon there were a bunch skaters trying it out.

Here are a bunch of photos and a few bits...

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Gawking at the new Five Rivers visitor center

new Five Rivers visitor center exterior

The new $8.9 million visitor center is now officially open at the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar. The "green" building includes interactive exhibits, classrooms, multipurpose space, restrooms, and staff offices. It's open Monday through Saturday 9 am to 4:30 pm.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has an Outdoor Day event there this Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm with activities such as animal demonstrations and guided walks.

Here's a look around the new building...

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Checking out the new Thacher Park Center

Thacher Park Center exterior

The new visitor center at Thacher State Park -- the aptly-named Thacher Park Center -- officially opened Thursday.

The $4.3 million, 8,240-square-foot project is located near the trailhead of the Indian Ladder Trail. Amenities blurbage:

+ A breathtaking entrance hall, interactive exhibits, small theater and model bat cave, all highlighting the park's history and fossil-rich geology;
+ The 1,340-square-foot "Helderberg Room" that can be reserved for community events and family gatherings;
+ An outdoor observation deck and patio overlooking the escarpment where visitors can take in the park's dramatic views;
+ A well-appointed warming area featuring a fireplace faced with fossil-bearing stone from the escarpment;
+ Two new stone and timber picnic pavilions;
+ Park offices, public restrooms and a welcome information desk to help visitors explore the park's expansive trail network and other features. The center is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The new center is part of a larger plan for upgrades at the Thacher that the state has been working on for years.

Paul Gallo was there Thursday and took a bunch of photos for us (Thanks, Paul!), so let's have a look at the new place...

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Empire Pass, now in card form

NYS Parks Empire Pass card

If you're a frequent New York State Park visitor the Empire Pass has been the most economical option for paying entrance fees -- $65 gets you unlimited entry for the year. So, anything past your 8th or 9th visit is free admission.

The downside: It has to be affixed to a car window.

Now there's a new option: The Empire Pass Card, which can be shared among members of a household and doesn't have to be stuck on a vehicle. The card is $80. Blurbage:

A new wallet-sized Empire Pass Card that can be shared within a household is now available. It's a family-friendly alternative to the traditional window decal, and not assigned to a specific vehicle. The new card can be used by parents, grandparents, caregivers and others.

The card is valid through December 31 of the year it's purchased. Here's the brochure with more info. And there's ordering info at that first link above (you can buy it online).

The Empire Pass stickers are still available, and they're still $65.

Multiple years
New York State Parks also offers multi-year cards -- $205 for three years, and $320 for five years.

There's also a lifetime Empire Pass for $750.

Thacher Climbing Coalition

Indian Ladder trail view at Thacher State Park

Thacher State Park doesn't currently allow rock climbing -- but it will eventually, possibly not far in the future. And a group called the Thacher Climbing Coalition is working toward that day. From the group's about page:

The Thacher Climbing Coalition promotes the enjoyment and protection of our natural cliff lands on the Helderberg Escarpment by way of rock and ice climbing. The organization is supported by climbers and others who believe that these natural highland areas have intrinsic worth, provide spiritual renewal, healthy exciting physical challenge, economic and ecological health for our region. Successful conservation depends on active engagement with the outdoors and we encourage climbers to join the ranks of other outdoor users in the region in support of land protection. We believe that climbing is a healthy, low-impact activity that deserves a place in parks and we strive to open and maintain access for climbers on the Escarpment.

A plan to allow rock climbing in Thacher Park has been in the works since at least 2013 when the state included the provision in the park's master plan. And last year, the state said it would be working with TCC on the effort.

Here's a TCC page with an overview of the current situation (which, to repeat, does not currently allow climbing).

Trail day: The Thacher Climbing Coalition has a trail day planned for this Saturday, September 24 for volunteers to work on building the climbers' trail. That link includes info about how to sign up and what to bring.

Noted: TCC's website includes a "Thacher not Thatcher" page.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Planning for the future of Thacher and Thompson's Lake State Parks
+ Thacher Park's namesake

Another look at the planned Thacher State Park visitors center

thacher park visitors center rendering 2015-June 2 cropped

The visitors center will be located near the overlook.

The Cuomo admin announced the groundbreaking of the $3.8 million Thacher State Park visitors center today. Here are a few large-format renderings. A state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation spokesman tells us the project is planned to be ready in summer 2016.

Press release blurbage:

The center, to be set next to the trailhead and picnic area for the popular Indian Ladder Trail, will introduce visitors to new park features, including an expanded trail network, as well as new opportunities for biking, rock climbing, caving, environmental education and an new high-ropes adventure course. The activities are part of the plan announced by the Governor to reinvigorate the park.
The 8,240-square-foot Thacher Park Visitor Center will include:
+ a welcome information desk to help visitors explore the park's expansive trail network and other features;
+ a grand lobby and exhibit area to highlight the park's fossil-rich geological history;
+ a 1,340-square-foot multipurpose gathering space that can be reserved for special events such as weddings and family reunions;
+ public restrooms and park offices; and
+ an outdoor patio overlooking the escarpment where visitors can take in the park's dramatic views.

We didn't notice much that was new in the announcement -- it's mostly a reiteration of the plans already in place.

Dan Keefe, deputy public information officers for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, told us today that the new mountain biking skills course and expanded caving access are on track to be ready this summer. (Details on the planned ropes course are still being worked out with the contractor.)

One other thing: There are now specific details about the campaign to raise $1 million from private sources for exhibits and amenities at the new visitors center. The Open Space Institute is heading up the campaign -- and the website for it includes some additional details about the center (as well as how to donate).

images: NYS OPRHP

The future of the Tivoli Lake Preserve

tivoli lake albany 2015-April

Tivoli Lake this week. (Here's a panorama photo.)

The city of Albany is more than three centuries old, so over the years some things are bound to be overlooked or lost in the shuffle. But an 80-acre nature preserve?

Yeah, that sort of happened.

"Tivoli Preserve has the potential to really be an attraction, and also a refuge, that is recognized by people within the city of Albany as an asset to the city. Right now, that's not true," Kate Lawrence, the city of Albany's sustainability planner, told us this week. "A lot of people don't know it exists. And the people who do know it exists avoid it because they don't know what's in there, because it's not very clear what the conditions are in there. Or it's a secret that only a few people can enjoy."

But there's a plan mapping out a possible new future for Albany's Tivoli Lake Preserve.

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A few more bits about the planned upgrades at Thacher State Park

Thacher State Park Visitor Center 2015-March rendering cropped

Here's a larger, uncropped version. / image: NYS OPRHP

The rendering above is the latest version of the new visitor center planned for Thacher Park State Park. It was released this week as part of the announcement of the Cuomo admin's NY Parks 2020 plan, which proposes to spend about $900 million on upgrades for state parks.

The plan reiterates some of the already-planned new amenities for Thacher Park, including the $3.8 million visitors center which will overlook "the most dramatic views in the region." Dan Keefe, deputy public information officers for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, says there isn't a target completion date for the visitors center yet. But planning is already in progress for exhibits inside the center, and an effort to raise private money to pay for those exhibits will start this spring.

Thacher is also in line for new facilities for mountain biking, caving, and a high ropes course. Keefe says those are expected to be ready for this summer. And park officials will be working with the Thacher Climbing Coalition to identify rock climbing locations after the snow melts.

Other state parks in the region are also slated for upgrades as part of NY Parks 2020 (pdf). Among those plans: facilities improvements for Spa State Park, possibly adding the former Mt. McGregor prison forestland to Moreau Lake State Park, and the digitization of a collections at at Peebles Island. [Daily Gazette] [TU] [Troy Record]

Earlier on AOA:
+ Funding for new Thacher Park visitor center
+ A master plan for Thacher State Park

Saratoga National Historic Park

fall foliage and cannon at Saratoga National Historic Park

By Lauren Hittinger

This year I've been visiting local state parks. Today we are switching it up with a National Park located in Saratoga County.

Much of Saratoga National Historic Park is centered around its history as the site of two major Revolutionary War battles, making it an excellent stop for history buffs.

But the views and distinctive touring route makes this park worth a visit even if social studies was never your thing.

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Schodack Island State Park

Schodack Island State Park river view

By Lauren Hittinger

This summer I'm visiting local parks to bring the scoop on each one to you. Today I'm headed north to Hudson Crossing Park. I've also already visited Hudson Crossing, Cherry Plain, Moreau Lake, Grafton Lakes, and Peebles Island.

If you've never been to Schodack Island State Park, you are definitely missing out. It is an incredibly peaceful spot right on the Hudson River, and the grounds are meticulously cared for. It also scores big bonus points because it doesn't charge an entrance fee during the week, making it a great destination for families and visitors during the week.

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Hudson Crossing Park

Hudson Crossing Park river

By Lauren Hittinger

This summer I'm visiting local parks to bring the scoop on each one to you. Today I'm headed north to Hudson Crossing Park. I've also already visited Cherry Plain, Moreau Lake, Grafton Lakes, and Peebles Island.

Hudson Crossing Park is a little bit different from the other destinations I've visited this summer. First off, it's not a State Park and subsequently has no admission fee. Also, it's specifically focused around environmental responsibility, and you can see evidence of that all around the park.

It may not have as many amenities as other locations, but the beautiful setting and unique eco touches make it worth a stop.

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Cherry Plain State Park

cherry plain park sign.jpg

Cherry Plain State Park -- worth the trip

By Lauren Hittinger

This summer I'm visiting local state parks and getting the scoop on each one. Today I'm stopping at Cherry Plain State Park. I've also already visited Moreau Lake, Grafton Lakes, and Peebles Island.

I first heard of Cherry Plain State Park as an ideal place to go to avoid the crowds, while still getting a day of swimming in. The park, situated quite a distance from metro areas, certainly does deliver on the promise of peace and personal space.

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Moreau Lake State Park

moreau lake state park bridge

By Lauren Hittinger

This summer I'm visiting local state parks and sharing the scoop on each one. I've already visited Grafton Lakes State Park and Peebles Island. Today I venture a little farther north with a visit to Moreau Lake State Park.

Located at the northern edge of the Capital Region, Moreau Lake State Park is going to be a bit more of a drive for some people, but it's worth a visit. The day use amenities are not unique, but the size and natural setting of the park is.

Moreau Lake State Park is certainly one of the more beautiful local state parks, and there's lots of space to explore.

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Grafton Lakes State Park

grafton lakes beach

By Lauren Hittinger

I'm visiting local state parks this spring and summer and will be sharing the best parts of each spot. Last time it was Peebles Island. Today, we talk Grafton Lakes.

Grafton Lakes is the reason why I fell in love with New York State parks. While I've been impressed with some other spots, Grafton Lakes has the closest thing in this area to a real beach. That's not to mention the trails, boating, picnicking, and basically any other outdoor activity you can think of...

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Peebles Island State Park

Peebles Island looking onto Mohawk River

By Lauren Hittinger

I really love state parks. As an apartment dweller, I have limited access to my own outdoors space and rely on parks and natural spaces to get sun and fresh air. Over the next few months I'm going to be sharing my favorite parks around the region, and highlighting the best parts of each spot.

Imagine there was a natural retreat with walking paths, wildlife, barbecue pits, and peaceful rivers just a few minutes from your house.

Okay, you can stop imagining now, because Peebles Island State Park is it. And if you're not already taking advantage of this spot, then you're missing out.

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A master plan for Thacher State Park

Indian Ladder trail view at Thacher State Park

"This magnificent panorama has no parallel in the capital district."

The Cuomo admin released the final master plan for John Boyd Thacher and Thompson's Lake State Parks this week. The plan, which follows a draft plan from earlier this year, is like a road map for the future direction of the parks, identifying new uses and facility upgrades along with a general sense of how those developments are prioritized.

A quick scan of the highlights are after the jump. They include: a merger of the two parks, a redesigned main park area, rock climbing, cave access, mountain biking, expanded beach area, and new bathrooms.

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Planning for the future of Thacher and Thompson's Lake State Parks

Indian Ladder trail view at Thacher State Park

As the draft plan notes: Thacher Park's "magnificent panorama has no parallel in the capital district."

The state Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation is currently in the process of planning a bunch of upgrades for John Boyd Thacher and Thompson's Lake State Parks.

The draft plan is wide ranging, from relatively straightforward and much-needed stuff (like new bathrooms) to a redesign of the some of the park's most-used areas. Also part of the proposed plan: officially combining Thacher and Thompson's Lake into one park. A lot of the changes wouldn't happen overnight -- the plan's timeline could extend as long as 15 years. And, of course, everything is subject to the availability of funding.

There's a public hearing on the proposed master plan for the parks this Thursday (August 1) at the New Scotland town hall at 7 pm.

The planning docs are posted online. We read them through them this afternoon and pulled a few quick-scan highlights.

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Public comments for Thacher Park, Thompson's Lake

thacher park indian ladder trail lowerThe state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is looking for public comment as it develops a new master plan John Boyd Thacher and Thompson's Lake State Parks:

Park master plans are used by the agency to analyze and improve park facilities and provide park patrons with a satisfying experience of the park's recreation and natural resources. The plan will review the current conditions at the park and make recommendations for improvement to existing facilities as well as new facilities to meet patron needs.

There's an open house at the Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center on Saturday, April 28 from 9 am - 5 pm -- park and agency staff will be there to discuss park issues and gather public input.

When Thacher Park was closed temporarily a few years ago because of cuts, there was a huge outpouring of public support for the park.

Hey, maybe this it the chance to push for getting the old pool there (of which many people apparently have fond memories) fixed re-built and re-opened.

(Thanks, Mary Beth!)

Earlier on AOA:
+ Thacher Park's namesake
+ The mystery at Hang Glider Cliff
+ Camping at Thompson's Lake State Park
+ Hiking the Indian Ladder Trail

photo: Kathie Dello

Capital Region Swimming Pools 2011

Pool.jpg

We want to go to there.

Update: Here is the information for 2012!

The last couple of days were just a taste of the upcoming Capital Region summer. And there will be more of that before you know it.

Don't get us wrong -- we're happy to have the warm weather. We just like it better when we're lying next to a pool with one of those drinks with the little umbrellas in them.

We still have a few weeks until most of the public pools open, but there are a few places in the Capital Region where you can beat the heat right now.

After the jump -- a list of Capital Region swimming pools and when they open this season.

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A Super Moon walk

Moon Walk Big Moon

It's only 221,567 miles away.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

Once a month a group meets at Moreau State Park in Saratoga County for a full moon walk around the lake. This month, though, the walk was super.

This past Saturday was a "super full moon" -- the moon was at its closest point to Earth on its elliptical orbit, and appeared about 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than usual. The last time a full moon was so close was 18 years ago.

But, that's all details. The bottom line is that it looked pretty cool...

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State parks (re)open

Thacher Park view

Now open: Thacher Park.

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced this afternoon it's opening all of the state parks -- including Thacher and the other parks that had been closed -- for this weekend. From the release:

[Commissioner Carol] Ash said staff will immediately reopen gates to parking lots and unlock the facilities to make them available for normal day-use activities, including picnicking, hiking, cycling and fishing. Other amenities will become available over the next few days as workers who have been reassigned return to their regular work sites and normal levels of seasonal park workers and lifeguards are hired.

WNYT reported earlier this afternoon that the closed signs at Thacher Park are already down and the grass is being mowed.

Just this afternoon (in fact, just within the last hour), the state Senate voted 32-27 in favor of a bill that provides funding for the parks (the Assembly passed a similar bill last night). [State of Politics]

Update: Senate minority leader Dean Skelos criticized the measure as "a classic bait and switch scam that promises open parks and delivers a mess of millions of dollars in new taxes and fees on businesses and reduces environmental protection funds." [Skelos statement]

photo: Kathie Dello

Cooling off in the Capital Region

Gin & Tonic at the pool.JPG

Not quite yet -- but soon.

Hot enough for ya?

The lack of air conditioning at AOA's downtown offices had us chugging iced tea and dreaming of a place to swim. So, we made a few calls to check on the beaches, pools and sprinkler pads in the Capital Region.

It turns out that some are already open, and others will be ready for swimming as soon as this weekend.

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Lincoln Park -- from beer, bricks and beavers

lincoln park beaver park plan 1914

A plan for Beaver Park from 1914

By Carl Johnson

Sure, the Washington Park has the Olmstead pedigree, the stately splendor, and a spooky rep as a former graveyard. But the land that became Albany's Lincoln Park has the more interesting history -- a history that includes beer, bricks, borrowing and... the beaver.

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Thacher Park's namesake

thacher park indian ladder trail lower

The Indian Ladder Trail at Thacher Park

By Carl Johnson

Lately we've heard a lot about Thacher Park -- because of the potential closing, the protests and now the possible reprieve. And in all this coverage, you've probably heard the park called by its full name "John Boyd Thacher Park."

So, who was John Boyd Thacher? And why did they name a park for him?

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Save the Parks rally

parks rally at capitol

That sign in the back puts it rather plainly.

B has posted a handful of photos from yesterday's Save the Parks rally outside the Capitol. Among them: one of Jack McEneny rocking the bullhorn.

Based on comments in reports from the rally, it sounds like legislators aren't too keen on the idea of closing down parks. Of course, who knows what's going to happen behind closed doors when/if the state budget comes together.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Thacher Park is on official closure list
+ The campaign for Thacher Park

photo: B

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