With budget still in limbo, New York SPs & historic sites remain open for time being

NEW SCOTLAND, N.Y. -- While the Paterson administration listed 41 state parks for closing during the fiscal year that started two weeks ago, their gates have remained open to hikers and other spring visitors.

At Thacher Park, people still were parking, walking, playing and picnicking Thursday on the 2,155 acres that extend up the Helderberg Escarpment about 15 miles southwest of Albany.

"As long as you've got parking you're all right," said Michael Barth. He had just stepped off his motorcycle in a long open lot with two dozen cars already in it. A state highway runs through Thacher, and parking on the roadside can get you a ticket, he said.

The issue of closing parks has become a hot political issue this year, with advocates and lobbyists for parklands warning that even iconic sites like Niagara Falls and Jones Beach on Long Island could be shuttered. The Paterson administration did release a list of 41 parks and 14 historic sites that could be closed to help address the state government's $9.2 billion deficit. Most of the parks on the list are among the lesser used.

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