Dec 30 2019 12:12 | Updated Jan 02 2021 04:01
Construction is underway for a new $6.1 million visitor center at Minnewaska State Park Preserve on the Shawangunk Ridge.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the public-private project with the Open Space Institute will create a new 5,000 square-foot facility that features public amenities and classroom space, exhibits and programming to educate visitors on the park's natural and recreational features.
According to a press release from the official website of the governor, the new visitor center is part of a $28.2 million public-private investment in Minnewaska State Park Preserve under Governor Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 initiative, which includes $21.2 million in state funding. The project includes renovating over 21 miles of carriage roads, creating the Shawangunk Gateway campground, reconfiguring the main entrance on Route 44/55 to relieve traffic backups, improving parking areas, adding new walkways, installing public drinking water to the area, installing storm water and sewer management infrastructure, undergrounding utilities, landscaping, renovating the park roadway, new self-composting restrooms and other site improvements.
"New York is home to world-class parks and recreational activities that attract tourists from all across the globe," Governor Cuomo said, "this new visitor center will provide much-needed amenities and new learning experiences to the thousands of tourists who come to the Minnewaska State Park every year, helping to boost tourism across the entire Hudson Valley region."
One of the key features of the visitor center will be restrooms and public drinking water, items that topped a 2014 survey of visitor concerns conducted by OSI. Located 90 minutes north of Manhattan, the park draws nearly 500,000 visitors annually.
The visitor center is being primarily funded by $3.1 million from the NY Parks 2020 Initiative. As part of the partnership, OSI has also raised $2.5 million and is launching a public campaign to raise the final $500,000 toward the project. The funds are contributing to the building design, construction, state-of-the-art exhibits and other upgrades and features.
OSI has also spearheaded the restoration of 4.5 miles of the park's Smiley Carriage Road, a popular destination for hikers, bikers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers. The Smiley Carriage Road reopened this fall after a $1.9 million restoration project, completed with support from the Butler Conservation Fund and the Environmental Protection Fund.
Kim Elliman, OSI's president and CEO, said, "OSI's commitment to the new visitor center and the restoration of the Smiley Carriage Road, builds on decades of work to protect the spectacular Minnewaska landscape and make it more accessible and enjoyable for the public. Over the years, we have proudly restored more than 12 miles of carriage roads and doubled the park's size through the addition of more than 12,000 acres, including the 2014 addition of the Sam's Point Preserve."
Governor's NY Parks 2020 is a multi-year commitment to revitalize state parks and includes $110 million for improvement projects in the 2019-20 Executive Budget.
State Parks oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which were visited by a record 74 million people last year. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov.