CASTILE – Governor Andrew Cuomo made the hike to Letchworth State Park on Tuesday to congratulate and applaud the park and its partners on opening the Humphrey Nature Center.
Members of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, state legislators and SUNY Geneseo President Denise Battles were among about 150 people who attended the ceremony. Gov. Cuomo said that Letchworth’s success as the USA Today Reader’s Choice best state park in the country is indicative of the value that New York’s parks have, both economic and otherwise.
“Having four-season parks with activities where people can keep coming back all year long is a tremendous economic potential for the state, and I’m proud of that,” said Cuomo. “But it is more than that. I think that even today, more than ever, parks are important for the soul. So much of society now is productivity and functionality and 24 hours and you’re on that device and you’re looking down and you get texts and tweets all day long. The younger generation has their face planted in video screens. It’s important to say that there’s more important things to see than a computer screen, things that are more beautiful, more nourishing for the soul, for the entire person, and there is nothing like coming back to mother nature and seeing the greatest artist at work and the greatest piece of artistry which was ever done, which was never touched by a man’s or a woman’s hand.”
Cuomo spoke first and kept his comments short. He said that he had just been informed of a crane accident at the Tappan Zee Bridge outside of New York City and had to depart.
The Nature Center offers year-round events and interactive displays for visitors of all ages to learn about the natural world that surrounds them. The facility uses LED lighting and natural light, a high efficiency HVAC system, radiant floor heat and a rain water cistern that is tied to irrigation of the new Butterfly Garden, with species of flowering plants that attract and feed local butterflies. The Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant Nature Center will include: meeting and classroom space; interactive exhibits designed to lead visitors out to engage with the park; a butterfly garden; and will connect to multi-use park trails.
Partnerships with SUNY Geneseo, local donors and artists made the many displays and attractions possible. As part of their five-year agreement with the park, the College helped develop and identify educational opportunities, research, environmental restoration, and preservation projects, programming, and exhibits. Students will benefit from the inclusion of state-of-the-art classroom space, the butterfly and biosphere garden, and specialized exhibitry detailing the rich natural diversity of the park.
Livingston County photographer Larry Tetamore worked with the park to take several stunning photos of of specified views and locations. He donated the photos as permanent displays in the Nature Center.
The $6.75 million, 5,000 square foot facility was realized through Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 initiative in partnership with the private commitment and funding efforts led by Peter Humphrey and the Humphrey family. With a $3.55 million headstart from NY Parks 2020, Humphrey led fundraising efforts to come up with the rest in both private commitments and grants.
New York State is investing millions into all state parks, even moreso locally.
The Governor’s ‘Parks 2020’ initiative is designed to deliver $900 million to New York State parks by 2020. Both the southern tier and Finger Lakes regions were awarded $500 million each as part of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative.
Cuomo thanked Rose Harvey, Commissioner of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, saying that her work to preserve and improve state parks will “go down in the history books.” Peter Humphrey, the Humphrey family, Senator Patrick Gallivan, and SUNY Geneseo President Battles for their collaboration and support of the Nature Center.
“This park and this center are part of a larger responsibility that we have,” said Cuomo. “There’s a great Native American proverb that says, ‘we did not inherit the land from our parents. We are borrowing the land from our children.’ One of our responsibilities as citizens, as parents, as stewards, is to give the next generation this state, this planet in a way that is better than when we got it.”