Open Space Institute and Governor Cuomo Announce Construction of $6.1 Million Visitor Center at Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Debut OSI-Restored Smiley Carriage Roads

ULSTER COUNTY, NY (Dec. 6, 2019)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that construction is underway for a new $6.1 million visitor center at Minnewaska State Park. The public-private project will create a new 5,000 square-foot facility featuring public amenities, exhibits and programming space to educate visitors on the park's natural and recreational features.

In addition to the new building, reopening of the OSI-restored Smiley Carriage Road, was also announced.

"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,” said Kim Elliman, OSI's president and CEO. “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."

Minnewaska includes 50 miles of trails and four pristine "sky lakes," as well as a rare dwarf pitch pine ecosystem in the Sam's Point Area.
Minnewaska includes 50 miles of trails and four pristine "sky lakes," as well as a rare dwarf pitch pine ecosystem in the Sam's Point Area.
Photo Credit: Greg Miller

"New York is home to world-class parks and recreational activities that attract tourists from all across the globe," said Governor Cuomo. "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."

As part of the funding for new visitor center, Governor Cuomo is allocating $3.1 million as part of a total $28.2 million public-private investment in Minnewaska State Park Preserve under his NY Parks 2020 initiative.

For its part, OSI has committed $3 million. Thus far, the group has raised $2.5 million and is launching a public campaign to raise the final $500,000. Among of the key features of the new visitor center will be restrooms and public drinking water, items that topped a 2014 survey of visitor concerns conducted by OSI. Additional information on the OSI campaign as well as opportunities to donate are available here.

The $1.9 million restoration of 4.5 miles of the Smiley Carriage Road was spearheaded by OSI, with the support of the Butler Conservation Fund and the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Smiley Carriage Road, enjoyed by hikers, bikers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers. The Victorian-era carriage road is a popular draw for visitors to the Park Preserve, which is 90 minutes from Manhattan and visited by half a million people every year.

Smiley is part of a network of 25 miles of carriage roads that thread throughout the park, located atop a 2,000-foot rocky escarpment and including 50 miles of trails and four pristine "sky lakes," as well as a rare dwarf pitch pine ecosystem in the Sam's Point Area.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "These improvements will make a visit to Minnewaska an even better experience, help highlight the recreational assets the park has to offer and attract even more visitors to enjoy this beautiful natural resource."

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