Albany and the Helderberg Escarpment Thacher Park

Released By the Governor’s Office: Governor Announces 188-Acre Acquisition at Thacher State Park

Image Credit: Steve Aaron

ALBANY, NY - August 3, 2006 - Governor George E. Pataki today announced an agreement for the acquisition of 188 scenic acres to expand John Boyd Thacher State Park in the Town of Knox, Albany County. The purchase will increase the size of the park to 2,155 acres. 

“Thacher State Park offers unrivaled views of the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys, plus exceptional four-season recreation,” Governor Pataki said. “With this latest addition to our State parklands, we are taking another step forward in preserving the spectacular scenery and unique natural heritage of the Helderbergs, one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world. The acquisition increases public access to the incredible outdoor resources and opportunities found in this region.” 

The State is purchasing the land from the Open Space Institute for $874,000 supported through the Environmental Protection Fund. The property is adjacent to the northern border of Thacher State Park and fronts the Helderberg Escarpment with views to the north and east. The parcel includes “High Point,” reported to be the highest elevation along the escarpment, and will provide for trails to be extended, most notably the Long Path, a 150-mile trail that begins near the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey. The acquisition will be completed pending final approval from the Attorney General and Office of the State Comptroller. 

Senator Neil D. Breslin said, “Thacher Park's magnificent panoramic views, natural resources and trails offer endless enjoyment and recreation to people of all ages. It gives me great pleasure to see the State partnering to protect this gem of the Capital Region.” 

Assemblyman John McEneny said, “Thacher Park holds special memories for me going back to the many happy summers I spent there as a child. The glorious views from the escarpment will always be among the most inspiring in New York State. The purchase of irreplaceable open space will expand the park and the ability of current and future generations to enjoy this unique resource of New York's natural heritage.” 

State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro said, “At Thacher State Park and across New York State, Governor Pataki continues to invest in open space acquisitions and park improvement projects that will expand access to recreation and help protect the unique natural resources in the region. Together with the Governor's support and our successful partnership with the Open Space Institute, this purchase will expand the popular park for even greater enjoyment by outdoor enthusiasts and patrons of all ages.” 

Open Space Institute (OSI) President Joe Martens said, “OSI has worked with Governor Pataki and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for almost a decade to safeguard nearly 1,000 acres of land along the Helderberg Escarpment and the protection of the 'Thomas' parcel is the culmination of our collective effort; it is the crown jewel of the Helderbergs. OSI purchased the property from area resident and businessmen Jeff Thomas who, despite more lucrative offers from developers, worked with OSI to ensure the property's protection.” 

Today's announcement builds on previous expansions and enhancements at Thacher and neighboring Thompson's Lake State Park within the last five years. In 2004, the Governor announced acquisitions at Thacher totaling 586 acres and designated Thacher and Thompson's Lake State Park a Bird Conservation Area. The large areas of northern hardwood forests, as well as shrub and field habitat, support some of the area's highest densities of breeding songbirds. In 2001 the State opened the Emma Treadwell Nature Center at Thompson's Lake, an area dominated by diverse lake, wetland, forest and field ecosystems. The facility provides activities and interpretive opportunities for visitors to interact with the natural environment of the Helderbergs and learn about resource protection in the area. 

This February, State Parks announced plans for a $3 million comprehensive rehabilitation of the fifty-year-old pool complex at Thacher including new facilities and upgrades to structural and mechanical systems to meet current code requirements. The pool area will be designed to include a new “zero depth” entry pool which will meet ADA access requirements and accommodate the learn-to-swim program as well as general swimming. A slide pool and interactive water play area will also be designed. And, in addition to new landscaping, shade structures and seating areas plus a new bathhouse will also be designed and constructed to include locker rooms with changing areas, lifeguard facilities and lockers, a first aid station and restrooms. 

The Thacher acquisition furthers the longstanding environmental and preservation goals set by the Governor that have made New York a national leader in open space protection and natural resource stewardship. In his 2004 State of the State Address, the Governor committed to opening five new State parks in the next two years and opening or expanding 20 parks. 

Since that time, the State has announced new State parks with the acquisition of Mohawk River State Park in Schenectady, Donald J Trump State Park in Westchester and Putnam counties, Midway State Park in Chautauqua, Robert V. Riddell State Park in Otsego and Amsterdam Beach in Montauk,opened Sandy Island Beach State Park in Oswego, Two Rivers State Park in Tioga, opened Jamesport State Park in Suffolk County, Robert G. Wehle State Park in Jefferson County, Sonnenberg Gardens State Historic Park in Canandaigua and expanded Rockefeller Preserve and Fahnestock State Parks in the Hudson Valley and Saratoga Spa and Thacher State Parks in the Capital District.

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