Public-private partnerships shine as way to add amenities to State Parks

ALBANY, NY - December 17, 2014 -The Open Space Institute is the recipient of four individual New York State Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) Grants that will support major visitor enhancement projects planned for Letchworth and Thacher State Parks, located in the Finger Lakes and Capital District regions, respectively. The state grants totaling $1.02 million complement the private dollars being raised by OSI through its Alliance for New York State Parks program to construct a nature center at Letchworth State Park and a visitor center at Thacher Park.

The development projects, planned for two of New York’s most prominent state park landscapes, will expand and deepen visitor experiences at the parks, through enhanced orientation, interpretation and public amenities. In each case, emphasis will be placed on encouraging and improving outdoor experiences, particularly for families and new visitors.

“We thank Governor Cuomo and members of the Finger Lakes and Capital District REDCs for their commitment to these two transformative park projects. These grants, made through a competitive process with a focus on economic impact, underscore the important role parks play as economic drivers,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “OSI is proud to be a leader in supporting these exciting projects that will ultimately encourage more people to get out and enjoy New York’s premier state parks.” 

“The Letchworth Nature Center and a new visitor center at Thacher will greatly enhance these State Parks as destinations for recreation and learning,” said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “I applaud the Open Space Institute for their partnership in moving these projects forward and I thank Governor Cuomo and the Finger Lakes and Capital Region Economic Development Councils for recognizing that quality parks are great building blocks for strong communities.”

Three of the four grants, totaling $800,000, were awarded to build a new $6.1 million Letchworth Nature Center at the park located southwest of Rochester. The REDC grant, along with other state funding, complements a $2 million private fundraising effort which has raised $1.6 million since the campaign was launched in May 2014. The new Letchworth Nature Center is slated for groundbreaking in Spring 2015. For more information on the project or to support the campaign, visit

Similarly, the $220,000 grant was awarded to OSI for a visitor center for Thacher Park. The grant will complement a private fundraising campaign supporting a new centerpiece for the Albany-area park. Plans for the new visitor amenity are currently under design. The OSI award will be directed toward the development and production of interpretive installations for the project.

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