NEW YORK, NY (May 16, 2018)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) has presented its annual Land Conservation Award to Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, M.D., an early supporter of OSI’s parks program, for her groundbreaking contributions to restoration and support of New York’s state parks. The luncheon also acknowledged the role of the New York State Council of Parks, of which Dr. Waletzky is chair.
More than 325 people gathered at OSI’s Annual Luncheon, held at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan, to honor Dr. Waletzky. Florence Williams, prize-winning author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, delivered the keynote address. Photos from the event are here.
“Revitalizing our state parks and historic sites not only benefits today’s park users, but also helps to build the next generation of stewards to care for our most beautiful places and the natural world that surrounds us.” said Dr. Waletzky. “I am very grateful to OSI for the partnership we have formed to improve state parks and proud of all we have accomplished together.”
“The foremost supporter of New York’s glorious state parks, Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky has had an immeasurable impact on the health and wellbeing of countless individuals and communities throughout New York. Her work is key to the natural and economic strength of communities across the nation,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “As an organization committed to conserving lands for the public and protecting our state parks, OSI is honored to celebrate Lucy’s invaluable contributions.”
Through her successful partnership with OSI — including the 2010 founding of OSI’s parks program, an initiative devoted to restoration and support of New York’s magnificent state parks — and support of other groups, Dr. Waletzky has built on her family’s remarkable tradition of conservation and improved access to parks for their 71 million visitors each year. This includes nearly $800 million in state investment under Governor Andrew Cuomo that has transformed a beleaguered and rundown collection of parks to an updated and modernized system of state parks and historic sites.
"Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky has had an immeasurable impact on the health and wellbeing of countless individuals and communities throughout New York." - Kim Elliman, President and CEO of OSI
In her most recent initiative, Dr. Waletzky is again partnering with OSI to build a new, world-class visitor center at Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The new visitor center will dramatically improve the visitor experience at the park by providing a welcoming area with trail maps and directions, a classroom space informational exhibits, and public restrooms. Drawing more visitors to the park, the visitor center will bolster the local economy while making Minnewaska more accessible and family-friendly.
As chair of both the State Council of Parks and the Taconic Region State Parks Commission, Dr. Waletzky, along with many of her fellow members, has partnered with OSI on other projects aimed at elevating state parks and making them more enjoyable to visitors.
Over the past seven years, these partnerships have resulted in expansive master plans to restore and renew Niagara Falls and Jones Beach state parks; new visitor centers in Letchworth and Thacher state parks; renovating the cultural performing art center at Riverbank State Park; renovation of beach and ski area of the Canopus Beach Complex at Fahnestock State Park; trail improvements at Mills Norrie State Park; and the restoration of more than eight miles of historic carriage roads, also at Minnewaska State Park Preserve.