ALBANY, NY - June 3, 2015 - The Open Space Institute (OSI) today joined with Governor Andrew Cuomo in announcing the groundbreaking of a new Thacher Park Center, a $3.8 million project that will provide a much-needed anchor for visitors who want to explore the 2,500-acre park on Albany County’s Helderberg Escarpment. The center, a signature project in the Governor’s NY Parks 2020 Plan to revitalize and transform the state park system, is being funded through a combination of public and private funds.
The event was also used to announce a private fundraising campaign to support the building’s educational and interpretive exhibits and provide for upkeep and support into the future. A separate fundraising effort is being led by OSI, which has set a goal of $1 million, of which $390,000 has already been secured, including a $220,000 matching grant through the Capital Region Economic Development Council and a $50,000 gift from TrustCo Bank. The initiative continues OSI’s longstanding commitment to Helderbergs. Over the past 20 years, through numerous transactions, OSI has added 1,200 acres to Thacher Park, more than doubling its size.
“Thacher State Park is a true gem for the Capital Region, and we are committed to making it more accessible for families and visitors,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are investing in our state parks to offer active, new recreational opportunities that will help make them year-round attractions. This project will provide a new setting for visitors to gather, learn, and enjoy the park’s panoramic views of Hudson Valley, Adirondacks, Green and Berkshire Mountains.”
Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks), said, "Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 plan is improving and reinvigorating our parks – and in doing so connecting new visitors and tourists to these incredible places. Thacher Park is undergoing an exciting transformation, and the Thacher Visitor Center will be the anchor where new and returning visitors can enjoy and learn about this defining feature of the Capital Region’s landscape.”
Erik Kulleseid, OSI’s Senior Vice President and Executive Director of its Alliance for New York State Parks program said, “From the generous legacy of the Thacher family to current efforts to expand and protect this Capital District treasure, Thacher Park is deeply rooted in generations of families, researchers and preservationists. In leading the private fundraising effort to support the new Thacher Park Center, OSI renews its commitment to Thacher Park and we are confident that area residents will do the same and support the new Thacher Park Center.”
The private fundraising campaign will target state-of-the-art exhibit installations highlighting the park’s unique geology, natural history and spectacular scenery; as well as well-appointed common areas and a sustaining endowment.
The center, to be set next to the trailhead and picnic area for the popular Indian Ladder Trail, will introduce visitors to new park features, including an expanded trail network, as well as new opportunities for biking, rock climbing, caving, environmental education and an new high-ropes adventure course. The activities are part of the plan announced by the Governor to reinvigorate the park.
The 8,240-square-foot Thacher Park Visitor Center will include:
- a welcome information desk to help visitors explore the park’s expansive trail network and other features;
- a grand lobby and exhibit area to highlight the park’s fossil-rich geological history;
- a 1,340-square-foot multipurpose gathering space that can be reserved for special events;
- public restrooms and park offices; and
- an outdoor patio overlooking the escarpment where visitors can take in the park’s dramatic views.
Friends of Thacher State Park President John Kilroy said, “Consistent with our mission to support and promote the Park, the Friends of Thacher State Park embrace the Center and Capital Campaign as a next important step in the revitalization of Thacher. We welcome this new era in the evolution of the Park and increased opportunity for an even broader audience to experience the Helderberg Escarpment’s beauty, geology and history."
Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making a strong commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor's 2015-16 Executive Budget allocates $110 million toward this initiative.
Thacher Park, visited by more than 300,000 people every year, sits at the top of the Helderberg escarpment, one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world, and features miles of hiking and biking trails, guided walks and interpretive programs, playgrounds, picnic areas, and swimming and camping at Thompson’s Lake.