Monthly Archives: October 2008

NYRI roundup

Just when I think I haven’t got the energy (pardon the expression) to blog about NYRI, they makes another silly statement

NYRI president Chris Thompson says he expects this type of “limited” opposition with any major project.

“Limited”? Just about the only thing the residents along the proposed line route haven’t done is to threaten to shoot at the pylons if they’re built.

The hearings taking place in various locations across the state are mostly a ritual. The last big hearing, when evidence is produced, is slated to take place some months from now in Albany. Mr. Thompson, who declines to come to Oneida County to be shown the areas that would be affected by the NYRI project, speaks of a “typical NIMBY response.”

When it rains, it snows

Word to the wise: When running a blog, thoroughly back up your data. My web provider had a server failure yesterday, which had the unsettling effect of wiping my account with them clean. Fortunately they do keep backups, and I do too… just not in one easily accessible piece. (While briefly contemplating the apparent loss of all my data, I felt sad about the disappearance of others’ comments and the New York State blogroll.)

So it’s supposed to snow a bit today (snow before Halloween? I do not like). Here is the Golden Snowball with a video reminding us of the Epic Fail of Buffalo’s recent October Surprise.

State park roulette

Shuffling through my photos for the past summer, I realize how spoiled rotten New Yorkers are when it comes to the great outdoors. This year I finally got to Letchworth (wish I’d gone in the fall, though) and spent a fabulous if rainy week in the Adirondacks. Letchworth is so fabulously outfitted with roads and facilities, it’s hard to believe. It’s also hard to believe that the entire state park system was scheduled for a $132 million refit thanks to the budget passed this spring… but the economic hammer has fallen so swiftly that I’m surprised they’re still going ahead with some of these projects (like Green Lakes’ new bathhouse) instead of cutting them altogether.

The worst-case scenario would be the extended or perhaps permanent closure of some of New York’s state parks. I wonder about little Pixley Falls State Park, located north of Boonville. It’s considered a satellite of the popular Delta Lake just down the road. There are less than two dozen campsites, and most of them are right on Lansing Kill, if you like fishing. The main attraction is a 50-foot waterfall that is pretty, but unspectacular in the pantheon of New York waterfalls, and a rugged trail that takes you past many charming cascades and springs with the green creek below. Just outside the park entrance is a ski trail leading past a series of uniquely situated Black River Canal locks that will make you say “How did they do that?”

As it so happens, Pixley is scheduled to close next year for critical repairs to a bridge damaged in the ’06 floods, and won’t reopen until 2010. But in the event of “permanent” park closures, Pixley’s fate would be written on the wall — the campground, I’m guessing, would almost certainly shut down, making it hard to justify a day trip up there for many people who use it.

So far, the state’s strategy has been to close some parks for the fall and/or winter, rather than shut them outright. But New Yorkers love their parks, and one such early closing — Schodack Island State Park, south of Albany — has prompted stiff citizen resistance of the “screaming bloody murder” kind. Both the Parks Department and the governor’s office have been pretty mum about the whole early-closing issue, and I haven’t been able to find a press release or list of what’s been closed, as it’s being decided on by regional administrators. Apparently only three have been closed for the winter: Schodack Island, Woodlawn and Silver Lake (all small parks).

If the Parks Department relents to pressure and reopens Schodack Island, does that mean another park in a less-politically-connected area of the state (or within the same parks region) gets shut down? And what does this sort of approach mean for a whole host of far more crucial budgetary areas, as the economy continues to worsen? I love to commune with nature in New York… but I don’t think we should be administering it via the Law of the Jungle.

Dying to know

The federal government has ruled that the remains of 180 Native Americans dug up in the Southern Tier during the construction of Route 17 should be returned to the custody of the Onondaga Nation by the New York State Museum. Naturally, New York is protesting, along the lines that nobody can agree when the Onondagas arrived in the area.

But what, exactly, does New York State need with 180 dead bodies in a cupboard? I mean, the Onondagas have their reasons, but I’d love to know what New York’s is. 180 skeletons? Really? How does this make the citizens of New York richer? How much, in these tough economic times, are we allocating in the state budget to help keep these skeletons out of the earth? I’m dying to know. Perhaps Gov. Paterson, who fought so passionately to preserve the African Burial Ground in Manhattan years ago, can tell us the dollar amount.