Lawmakers want to give New Yorkers a discount on state park admissions and fees this season

Legislative Gazette photo by Daniel DiLorenzo. Front page photo by Devin Cabrera
Sen. Jim Tedisco, at podium, and Assemblyman Matt Simpson, front row, left, are sponsoring legislation that would give New Yorkers a 50 percent discount on admission prices and fees at state parks and historic places and other state-owned recreational facilities this season.

In light of near-record inflation, and a desire for families to shed the “doldrums of the pandemic,” two state lawmakers have introduced a bill to give New Yorkers a 50 percent discount on admission fees for all state parks, historic sites and recreational facilities during the 2022 season.

The legislation ( S.8699/A.10030 ), sponsored by Sen. Jim Tedisco and Assemblyman Matt Simpson, cuts the price of admission at facilities operated by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the 2022 season, potentially saving New York taxpayers up to $54 million in total this year. 

“I think the best way to describe what’s taken place over the last two years in New York state and around the global is…turmoil,” Tedisco said in the Capitol last week when he announced his bill. “The real enemy for all of us has been this pandemic and this COVID virus. It’s affected families and it’s affected individuals…caused us to be isolated in many ways…but we have fought back.

“As we head into the summer months, you’re going to see a roaring 2022,” said Tedisco, R-Glenville. “People are going to want to bring their families, their children, they’re going to want to go picnicking and hiking. They’re going to want to go camping and visit everything this great state has to offer.”

Tedisco and Simpson provided some examples of how their bill would reduce the price of many popular activities. Visitors to Saratoga Spa State Park would see their vehicle entrance fee reduced from $10 to $5; campsites at Verona Beach State Park would drop from $30 a night to $15; and the $10 admission to Niagara Falls State park would drop from $10 to $5.

At Jones Beach on Long Island, star gazing costs $35, diving permits are $80 and locker rentals costs $5. The price of this package would be $60 under this bill. To play 18 holes of golf on a weekend at Bethpage State Park Golf Course in Farmingdale costs $43. This bill would cut that to $21.50. 

“For a long period of time over these last two years, the parks went for naught. Because we have been isolating ourselves,” Tedisco said. “We’d like to give [families] a break on anything recreational-wise New York state has to offer. 

“If we can spend $600 million for a football field — and we love the Bills no question about it — then we can certainly give our constituents a summer break to fight the doldrums of the winter we just came out of and the doldrums of this coronavirus so they can start feeling more comfortable and going out and enjoying the recreational weather,” Tedisco said.

The Senate bill was introduced on March 31 and resides in the Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee. It has four co-sponsors, all Republicans. 

The Assembly bill was introduced on April 29 and resides in the Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee. There are currently no co-sponsors for the Assembly bill.

“When I was a child my parents used to take my brother and I to state parks, state facilities and we made memories,” said Simpson, R-Horicon. “Things that really have lasted a lifetime.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to give back to all New Yorkers. An opportunity to experience all the opportunities in our state parks. Learn about their environment,” Simpson continued. “Learn about conservation and learn about what their hard-earned taxes are going towards.

“I’m excited about sponsoring this legislation. It’s time that we give New Yorkers a break, and this is just a small gesture that we can do this year after a two year pandemic that just seems to continue to linger.”