NY-Works for State Parks

Governor Cuomo recently made two announcements ahead of the Memorial Day weekend that further demonstrate his ability to spend money, which is a good thing.

In Albany, we often refer to this as ‘getting the money out the door’ which anyone who has been allocated environmental protection fund (EPF) money over the past decade knows, is often much more painstakingly difficult than it would appear at first blush.

This week’s announcements concern NY-Works funded projects. NY-Works is the Governor’s capital program that bundles together various pots of existing funds used for infrastructure projects, and also ‘spins up’ future year funding, to address infrastructure needs across multiple agencies in the near term.

This week the Governor announced the timely completion of a $29 million NY-Works bridge repair project on a major thoroughfare that carries more than 100,000 vehicles each day between Albany and its suburbs and also serves as a main conduit for downstate motorists traveling to the Adirondacks and Montreal.

In additional outdoor benefit, he also announced the commitment of $90 million in NY-Works funds for state park upgrades and repair projects that will begin this year (a list of individual projects is included in the Gov’s press release).

The Parks funding announcement is of particular notice because of the well-documented $1 billion backlog of park infrastructure upgrade needs and the equally impressive response that is required to begin addressing this problem in a meaningful way. So far, the Governor has launched a blitzkrieg of stimulative and restorative spending to bring parks back into safe, enjoyable condition. And this influx of resources is expected to continue. In addition to the almost $150 million made available over the first two years, the state’s capital plan envisions $90 million in NY-Works allocations for park projects in each of the coming five fiscal years.

The best news may be that the Governor’s commitment to designate resources for park upgrades is matched with a willingness to get contracts signed and the work begun. The Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation disbursed (paid out) $54 million for park infrastructure projects last year (the first year of NY-Works funding) and, with the recent announcement of $90 million in new commitments, it appears likely that this number will grow significantly in the next few years.

The new trend of flowing money and work underway is evident here in Albany. It has shown up on the balance sheet where EPF disbursements have matched or surpassed allocations for each of the past three years after eight years of promised money being held up for extended time. More overtly, it has been seen in the acceleration and completion of seemingly never-ending Capital Building renovations as well as the quick conclusion to local bridge upgrades easing traffic for holiday travel. Soon it will be evident in state parks across New York as crews are seen making repairs and building new accommodations as part of the 90 new construction projects funded through NY-Works. 

Author: Andrew Postiglione