New York, NY (Jan. 5, 2024)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today applauded Governor Kathy Hochul’s newly announced NY SWIMS initiative. As the New York State Parks system celebrates its Centennial in 2024, NY SWIMS will provide new public amenities and improve existing offerings to better connect more people to nature and the outdoors.
The proposal draws from several recommendations in a report issued by OSI and the New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition in 2022, including increased funding for parks, prioritizing equity in park investments, engaging in diverse community partnerships, and addressing core barriers to getting people outdoors.
The Open Spaces for All report identified the structural and societal barriers that prevent New Yorkers from fully accessing and feeling welcome in public parks and open spaces. The report was created to guide state-level environmental policies, programs, initiatives, and funding opportunities with the goal of embedding equity and inclusivity into park and open space planning.
“We are thrilled that Governor Hochul is marking the New York State Park system Centennial by investing in much-needed outdoor amenities at key state parks and in underserved communities. For decades, OSI has advocated for increased investment in parks, including through the recommendations in the Open Spaces for All report,” said Kathy Moser, chief conservation and policy officer at OSI. “We thank Governor Hochul and her administration for making the recommendations in the Open Spaces for All report work for the benefit of all New Yorkers and our state’s peerless park system.”
Governor Hochul’s NY SWIMS initiative proposes to establish recreational amenities in high-needs areas, connect New Yorkers to the state’s rivers and lakes, and prioritize investments in underserved communities and areas prone to extreme heat. The proposal outlines strategies to help communities address some of the worst heat effects caused by climate change. The Governor’s plan includes the revitalization of public facilities at Harriman State Park, Jones Beach State Park, Moreau Lake State Park, and Sojourner Truth State Park.
About the Open Spaces for All Plan
Open Spaces for All was created by OSI in partnership with the New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition (NYORC) and with input from more than 200 individuals representing diverse social and economic identities, community groups, nonprofit organizations, businesses, existing users, thought leaders, non-traditional stakeholders, and government entities from across the state.
Open Spaces for AllRead the full report
The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to provide public enjoyment, conserve habitat and working lands and sustain communities. Founded in 1974, initially to protect significant landscapes in New York State, OSI has today been a partner in the protection of over 2.3 million acres in the eastern US and Canada, from Quebec to Florida.
OSI has had a long and highly successful connection with New York’s state parks, preserves and forests, having protected land that accounts for a full 10 percent of the state’s parkland. Over the past 45 years, OSI has doubled the size of Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Fahnestock State Park, Moreau Lake State Park, and Thacher State Park. OSI has protected more than 60,000 acres in or adjacent to the Adirondack Park Preserve and nearly 25,000 acres within the Catskill Park. For the last decade, OSI has become the state’s leading private partner raising capital dollars and undertaking capital projects at state parks and lands to foster public access and offer 21st century amenities. Learn more about OSI online at www.openspaceinstitute.org.