New Paltz, NY (October 9th, 2020)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today joined Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in announcing the opening of a new visitor center at the Minnewaska State Park Preserve on the Shawangunk Ridge. The Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center is the result of a public-private partnership between OSI and the State of New York and will serve as a gateway for park visitors as they venture out to explore the park’s 24,000 acres.
Now completed, the center will improve overall public access to the park by familiarizing visitors with all of the park’s scenic destinations, providing upgraded visitor amenities, and guiding visitors to new opportunities for walking, running, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and more.
"Minnewaska State Park Preserve is one of New York's great natural treasures, offering matchless views and vast open spaces to explore," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "This new visitor center is an essential addition to this destination park that will allow a whole new generation of visitors to better appreciate the unforgettable beauty and rich history that Minnewaska has to offer."
"The completion of the long-awaited Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center is a capstone project of the Open Space Institute, topping off our 40-year history expanding this park and making it more welcoming and enjoyable to visitors,” said Kim Elliman, President and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “OSI is proud of this momentous accomplishment and the role we played in designing this inspiring building and interior space, supporting its construction, and creating exhibits that match the splendor of this site and will elevate the public's overall experience here at this beloved park. I offer my sincere thanks to the many OSI supporters who donated to this project, as well as my fellow colleagues, past and present, who's remarkable vision and hard work made this day a reality."
The Lake Minnewaska Visitor Center campaign committee was led by OSI Trustee, Jennifer Cunningham, and longtime resident of the Shawangunks, Jim Ottaway. The fundraising effort raised $3 million in private funds and grants, included support from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).
OSI’ private fundraising efforts helped to elevate the center’s offerings, including its the architectural design, special features, and the creation of exhibits that match the splendor of the site and will elevate the public’s overall experience of the park.
The 5,400 square-foot facility will:
- help visitors navigate the park's expansive network of more than 50 miles of footpaths and 35 miles of carriage roads;
- encourage good environment stewardship and low-impact visits;
- provide educational programs and state of the art exhibits on the park's environment and history;
- provide an outdoor patio overlooking Lake Minnewaska;
- offer a place to warm up during cold weather; and
- provide public restrooms and drinking water.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "As more and more people discover the majesty of Minnewaska State Park Preserve, it was critical to provide a modern public facility to welcome arriving visitors. The new visitor center will help our guests enjoy a deeper and more rewarding experience, help highlight the recreational assets the park has to offer and encourage them to practice good environmental stewardship. I am tremendously grateful to Governor Cuomo and our partners for helping make this vital center a reality."
Here, at one of the most celebrated and visited natural landscapes in New York State, OSI has protected more than 13,000 acres of Minnewaska State Park Preserve, doubling the park in size.
In addition, as part of OSI’s commitment to make protected lands more welcoming and widely available, OSI also spearheaded the restoration of more than 12 miles of historic carriage roads within Minnewaska.
The 24,000-acre Minnewaska State Park Preserve is New York's third-largest state park. Located atop a 2,000-foot rocky escarpment, the Park Preserve includes 35 miles of stone dust carriage roads, 50 miles of trails, and four pristine "sky lakes," as well as a rare dwarf pitch pine ecosystem in the Sam's Point Area, and is visited by nearly 500,000 people annually.