Into the wild

Today, the original list of 55 state parks and historic sites slated for closure were officially shut. For a while it looked like the legislature was going to get its act together and “save” them for another year, but everyone in Albany is so busy trying to make each other look bad that the parks just fell through the cracks. As Norbrook points out, you might as well kiss some of these facilities goodbye.

While certain concerned parties such as Novisuccinea chittenangoensis may be relieved, some other New Yorkers are going to attempt to pretend that this all never happened and use the parks anyway:

At Knox Park In East Aurora, the park is technically closed but that didn’t stop park goers like Sue Guindon from showing up. What did she encounter? “Not a thing, peace, not a problem…no gates closed, a regular day. I was hoping for that, I don’t want anything but a peaceful walk in the park as I do every single day when I come here myself, my friends or with my family.” Guindon says she will not back down and plans to keep coming to the park.

A lot of people know back routes or unofficial entrances to the closed parks. (I know a discreet route into one of my favorites, and admit I am tempted.) How hard is the state going to enforce no-trespassing rules? When do the drug dealers start to show up?

Does privatization come next? A Republican state senator is now push-polling about that. But on Long Island they already have a savior in the form of Citibank, which is coming to the rescue and playing out exactly what I feared — the haves will have their parks, and the have-nots will just have to sneak in like animals.

Every government, no matter what way it gains power (via elections, or just brute force), has to engage in what are known as “legitimizing activities.” Every president, king or emperor since the beginning of civilization has eventually had to come up with bread and circuses, pleasure parks, and other ways of keeping the people happy within the system and in awe of their largesse and majesty. To the people, the failure to keep providing these perks contributed to a sense of “legitimacy fail.”

The park closures are of course not the most serious thing we’re facing. But it makes you wonder. If the entire legislature and the governor are this impotent that they could not stop this from actually happening, then their days of legitimacy as a government are that much closer to the end. When do the people who are still living in New York (and not fleeing elsewhere) just simply stop paying attention to them, or to their successors?

For Ms. Guindon, I guess the answer is “now.”

2 Replies to “Into the wild”

  1. Excellent piece, NYCO. I’m afraid you are spot on about this perhaps being a significant tipping point for people who will no longer see the state of New York as a real government.

  2. It’s not just the parks system, it’s also DEC. It was in the paper last week that roads into the Moose River Plains Wilderness are closed along with several other wilderness areas, and will probably not be reopened this year. There will be no assistant Forest Rangers for any of the Wilderness areas this year. In addition trail maintenance has been cut back in other areas. These all were “low cost” or “free” activities for the public, and now they’re gone. They may, be back next year, but that remains to be seen.

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