Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Ways To Lose

....I see new ways to lose, I never knew existed before.
Casey Stengel

Orient Beach State Park consists of 363 acres at the far end of Long Island's North Fork. Located slightly west of the Orient-New London ferry terminal, it is a narrow peninsula surrounded by oyster ponds and Gardiner's Bay. According to the park website, there is "45,000 feet of frontage on Gardiner's Bay and a rare maritime forest with red cedar, black-jack oak trees and prickly-pear cactus."
On a late afternoon last October,  I paid a short visit to this park for the first time in nearly a decade. I had about an hour to kill before I was scheduled to take the ferry back across the Sound, and hopefully, be home in time to watch the baseball playoff games that evening.
With spring now arriving, baseball isn't the only thing back in the news. There have been rumblings out of Albany that the state of New York will close up to 55 state parks and historic sites in an attempt to save money. Sadly, Orient Beach is one of the state parks listed to be closed. I postponed writing about this, believing it was just one of those bad ideas that would disappear in a week or two. Today, the first day of April, there is still a  possibility that this could occur. No April Fools joke about it!

Maybe it is just a sign of me getting older, but we seem to be in a decade of mixed messages and double-speak. We are told to save our money by going shopping; to use mass transit while services are cut; and at a time when Staycation has become a buzzword, local parks and public sites are scheduled to close.
Connecticut has not been immune from these bad ideas either. Money from the Long Island Sound License Plate Program was  grabbed by Hartford, and parks with surpluses, such as Harkness State Park have had their dollars transferred to the state's general fund. Meanwhile, park fees and fishing licenses have doubled in some cases.
The current economic crisis has brought on a lot of references to the Great Depression. I find it ironic that many of these parks were created in the 1930's. Today, we treat them as an unnecessary luxury, while we hand over billions of dollars to subsidize baseball stadiums. As much as I love the game of baseball, our fiscal priorities appear completely backwards. Sacrifices need to be made, but they shouldn't all be so lopsided. I may love to hear the sound of Play Ball!, but not at the expense of A Day In The Park.

Field Of Schemes:  Taxpayer Subsidized Sports Stadiums
New York Times: State Proposes Closing 55 Parks & Sites
Steve Fagin: Hijacking CT Park Fees; A Sharp Stick In The Eye
North Fork Vue: Fans Of Orient State Park
Newsday: NY Audubon: Don't Be Shortsighted About Parks
Saratogian: Senate Dems Say Parks Will Stay Open
Yonkers Tribune: $2 Billion Taxpayer Dollars Go To Yankees
From The North Fork: Orient Photos

You can stay updated on this issue by following me on Twitter.


Bursledon Blogger said...

vruel irony indeed, they could save the money by just letting nature take over for a while and still keep the parks open.

Erin | Bygone Living said...

When I heard about the Orient Beach State Park closing, I was so upset. It's such a beautiful place. I really pray something happens to prevent that. It's such a shame to be closing all of these state parks...

Mark Kreider said...

It is so sad.. the deterioration that could ensue. It won't keep anyone off the park land, the park land just won't be patrolled or monitored. Fortunately most of the folks that will use it will leave no footprints. We really do care.

Canoez said...

I always figured that a "new" CCC effort by the Federal government would have been a great way to to both improve parks and infrastructure that have been long ignored. It's sad that they haven't taken advantage of this opportunity to both improve parks and public places while helping the available workforce who need the jobs.

Erica Houskeeper said...

It's sad that these parks were built in the 1930s and now they're being tossed aside. Who needs parks when you can get in your car and drive to the nearest mall? said...

Ugh! I can't imagine life on Long Island without our beloved State Parks!
It's our only refuge from the rat race that exists everywhere else here.

Angelshair said...

Sad indeed!! But Erica housekeeper is right :). I really hope they will change their mind.