Highlights from Governor Cuomo’s 2017-18 proposed new state budget

January 18, 2017

Governor Cuomo has released his new state budget for the next fiscal year 2017-18. It clocks out north of $160 billion and contains spending for the Adirondack Park and New York’s environment. Here’s a summary of the highlights for each.

Adirondack Spending

ORDA Upgrades. The Budget includes $12.5 million in new capital funding for ORDA, including $10 million for critical maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades to the Olympic and ski facilities.

Clarkson-Trudeau Partnership. The remaining $5 million is included in the Budget to support the partnership between the State, Clarkson University and the Trudeau Institute to form a world- class biotech enterprise and further establish the North Country Region as a premier center of biotechnology research and development.

Waterfront Revitalization (in EPF). The EPF includes funding of $660,000 for Adirondack infrastructure and environmental improvements for the towns of Minerva, Indian Lake and Newcomb.

Landfill Closure (in EPF). The EPF includes $500,000 for closure of the Essex County Landfill, stemming from the 1998 agreement.

Adirondack Natural History Museum. The new budget includes $6.5 million for upgrades and the WoodsWalk.

Adirondack Park Agency. Funding held steady, no increases, no major cuts.

Adventure NY/NY Works. Budget materials about this program say “NY Works, is a multi-year capital commitment that is supporting projects to access State lands managed by both DEC and Parks. Since 2011, NY Works has invested $713.4 million in 717 recreation and access projects. This year, NY Works will invest $60 million launch Adventure NY, a multi-year outdoor recreation campaign, and invest $50 million, including $30 million in new funding, to connect more New York families and visitors to the great outdoors. In the first three years of the Adventure NY campaign, DEC and local partners will design and construct more than 75 projects on state lands, including rehabilitating campgrounds; upgrading visitor centers, education centers, and youth camps; improving and building miles of trails; constructing duck blinds, boat launches, and wildlife viewing platforms; and making resources universally accessible so all can enjoy.

Hut to Hut Project/NY Works. Listed as key projects are “infrastructure at Boreas Ponds in the Adirondacks” and trail building as “part of the ‘Hut-to-Hut’ system that links State lands to community amenities.”

Gateway to the Adirondacks at Northway Exit 29 in North Hudson. Budget materials state:

“The Frontier Town theme park was built in the Adirondacks in 1952. For more than four decades, this entertainment destination was a boon to the local economy, drawing visitors from across the country to the Town of North Hudson. But since 1998 when the theme park was closed, this site at Exit 29 of the Northway has sat dormant. As a result, local jobs, restaurants and lodging have all but disappeared from this once thriving Adirondack community.

In 2016, recognizing a critical need to invigorate the economies of these Adirondack communities, Governor Cuomo challenged the Open Space Institute and five neighboring Adirondack towns to collaborate with the State to design a blueprint for a new recreation hub at this location. In 2017, that challenge will be met and a new world-class recreational experience will be realized through the establishment of state, local and private partnerships led by Governor Cuomo to invest up to $32 million to create the Gateway to the Adirondacks. The new hub will include:

• A DEC campground and day use area along the Schroon River;

• An equestrian camping and trail riding area, similar to DEC equestrian camping and riding facilities at Otter Creek and Brookfield, which are draw visitors from throughout the eastern United States;

• A Visitor Information Center to introduce visitors to the world class recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Park;

• An Event Center with tourist accommodations and facilities for hosting shows and festivals;

• Interactive exhibits in historic structures highlighting the past, present, and future of the Adirondack forest products and local food industries; and

• Areas designated for commercial business development including those which provide food, lodging and amenities for visitors and those which can grow at this strategic location along the Northway corridor.

As a first step, the Department of Environmental Conservation will acquire a conservation easement on approximately 300 acres of land with support from the Environmental Protection Fund. This will allow construction of the public and equestrian camping and day use areas. Paradox Brewery will also be investing $2.8 million to expand its operations at the site thanks in part to $200,000 in incentives from the Empire State Development Corporation.

Governor Cuomo’s goal is to promote and increase the economic vitality of the towns connected to this North Hudson location. Transforming this site into an attractive destination will link local and regional resources and provide year round recreation opportunities and services for multiple uses, users and businesses. The Gateway site will welcome, orient and connect visitors to trail networks, recreation destinations and businesses in the Adirondack Park. Drawing visitors to North Hudson to connect with premier opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling and boating. This, coupled with commercial business development, will revitalize communities and help transform this region.”

Environmental Spending

Clean Water Infrastructure. The Governor is proposing $2 billion over five years with allocations of $400 million annually. This fund will make investments in drinking water, wastewater and source water protection will protect public health and the environment, and safeguard our precious water resources. These capital resources will be utilized to improve municipal drinking water distribution and filtration systems, replace lead service lines, improve wastewater treatment infrastructure, make strategic open space and farmland protection investments, expedite the cleanup of hazardous waste that may impact drinking water, and support green infrastructure.

Nation’s largest Multi-Use Trail network. The Budget proposes investing $53 million develop fragmented stretches of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Erie Canalway. When complete, the trail network will stretch through the Hudson Valley and Adirondacks from New York City to the Canadian border and along the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo. This $53 million, phase one investment will create the largest multi-use trail network in the nation, attracting new tourists to explore New York’s diverse landscapes and rich history.

$300 million Environmental Protection Fund. The new budget continues EPF funding at $300 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history. Appropriations include $33 million for land acquisition, $28 million for state lands stewardship, $41 million for solid waste programs, $22 million for the climate change mitigation and adaptation program and $12.5 million for invasive species control. This investment will provide funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced public recreational access to state lands, and water quality protection and improvement.

Carbon Emission Reductions. Cuomo has proposed an additional 30 percent reduction by 2030, which if the Trump Administration destroys President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, will make the New York program one of the most ambitious plans in the U.S. This program makes key investments in alternative energy facilities, largely through revenues generated through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Program (RGGI). The RGGI program in New York has led to a 46 percent reduction in carbon emissions from affected power plants and a 90 percent reduction in coal-fired power generation.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations. Governor Cuomo also plans to spend $3 million for new charging stations across New York and outfit NYS government offices.

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