New York’s $4 million investment creates modern, 10,000-square-foot, energy-efficient facility
QUAKER RUN — Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was the guest speaker Tuesday for the official opening of the new $4 million Quaker Lake bathhouse.
The lieutenant governor, a South Buffalo native, said one of her fondest memories was spending time with her family as a child camping in Allegany State Park. She recalled waking up stiff after having slept in a sleeping bag on the ground at the family’s campsite.
The $4 million investment in the replacement of the former bathhouse is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s PARKS 2020 initiative designed to funnel $900 million into state parks over 10 years, Hochul pointed out. The investment in parks is for the next generation of users, Hochul said.
“This is absolutely a place for families,” she said. “It is a gathering place. This is home turf for me.
“We had a big family and didn’t have a lot of money. This was a family-friendly location. You felt like you were in an exotic location.”
Mark Thomas, New York State Parks Western District director, said the old Quaker Lake Bathhouse had seen 45 years of service but was showing its age. It was demolished after Labor Day.
The new building is a modern, 10,000-square-foot, energy-efficient facility, officials said.
Jay Bailey, Allegany regional director, said besides the new changing facilities located in one wing, there is a new snack bar and kitchen, lifeguard office and storage space.
The Great Room, where the opening ceremony was presented, will be available to be rented for different occasions. The Great Room is a combination of stone on the floor and partway up the walls, with wood planking on the remainder of the walls and ceiling behind an open timber frame. A massive fireplace takes up one wall.
The three-season, multi-purpose Great Room will be used for interpretive and nature lectures, as well as meetings, training programs and private gatherings for up to almost 100 people.
A new playground is also at the beach site. The parking lot was reduced, and new curbs, paving and lighting were installed.
WHEN CUOMO TOOK office, there were 88 state parks in danger of closing, Hochul said. She told listeners to imagine what it would look like if part of Allegany State Park, the state’s largest, had been forced to close.
With the $900 million commitment, Hochul said the governor is reversing decades of decline. The governor just announced another $130,000 grant for hiking trail maintenance and $50,000 for horse trail maintenance, she added.
The state’s parks help generate $2 billion in tourism spending and are responsible for more than 20,000 private sector jobs.
State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, was among those supporting the new bathhouse Tuesday.
“Everyone in the room has something in common: They all love Allegany State Park,” she said.
It wasn’t long ago that the Quaker beach and bathhouse were in danger because of state fiscal problems.
“In 2009-10, New York state was looking to close the Quaker area,” she said.
Hundreds of people rallied to the support of the state park, protesting the state’s plan.
“Look at the turnaround,” Young said, pointing to the new bathhouse facility.
Turning to Hochul, Young told the lieutenant governor that she, too, remembered sleeping on the ground while camping in the park.
“When you look out that window, it’s priceless,” Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, added.
Dalton Burgett of Jamestown, chairman of the Allegany State Park Regional Commission, chimed in with his excitement as well.
“The governor’s PARKS 2020 project is a resounding success,” he said. “When parks change for the better, people will come.”
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)