Summer renovations kick off at Long Island state parks


Jones Beach is one of the many Long Island state parks that Governor Cuomo looks to improve this year.

Kaitlyn Lucey, Editor-in-Chief

Famed journalist Henry Grunwald once said, “A beach is not only a sweep of sand, but shells of sea creatures, the sea glass, the seaweed, the incongruous objects washed up by the ocean.” What Grunwald left out in his description of beaches was new improvements to the shore— especially in the case of Long Island beaches this summer.

Perhaps long overdue, Long Island’s state parks— including Jones Beach, Bethpage State Park, and Robert Moses State Park— are receiving much needed updates. Although not complete overhauls, these parks are at the receiving end of a deal, supported by Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, that will fund almost thirty million dollars worth of improvements focused on improving visitor experience and increasing tourism.

“New York is home to some of the top outdoor recreational and historic sites in the world and it is critical that we safeguard them for generations to come,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this funding, we are building on our past success in improving the infrastructure of our state parks and developing them into economic engines for local communities.”

Indeed, the infrastructure of many of Long Island beaches is perhaps desperate for upgrades. Jones Beach, which opened in 1929,  is famous for its availability to the public as well as its art deco architecture, implemented by Robert Moses. However, in the past several decades, the park has struggled to keep up with its old age.

Although the park has appeared to be in a slump for the past several years, the park remains a favorite of Long Island residents of all ages.

According to the Cultural Landscape Foundation, “Despite several decades of deterioration, it [Jones Beach] remains one of the best attended beaches in the New York State Park System: a testament to the enduring principles that led to its creation and guided its physical development.”

Thus, Governor Cuomo’s plan for improving parks are a step forward in restoring the previous grandeur of Jones Beach. Such improvements, which vary in scale, include: expanded bathrooms — which can cut down on long lines during the summertime — a revamped menu for restaurants, which keeps the classic burger and fries, but adds fresh fares such as locally-caught fish; and improvements to the bathhouses, among other upgrades.

“I’m glad that the state government is focusing on improving the experience of going to the beach. Hanging out with my friends at Jones Beach during the summertime has been one of my favorite parts of living on Long Island, and I’m happy knowing that they are doing all they can to make this a reality for more people,” senior Zach Ready said.

In addition, visitors to Jones Beach can enjoy the recently renovated bike path, the Greenway, completed in the summer of 2014. According to Newsday, the Greenway allows cyclists to “travel from Cedar Creek Park at the start of the Wantagh path, through Jones Beach to Tobay Beach for 8.8 miles.”

Other improvements planned for Long Island include renovations to Bethpage State Park; in addition to the clubhouse receiving new heating and cooling systems, New York State is investing half a million dollars to upgrade the golf course. These renovations are planned as a way of preparing for the upcoming 2021 and 2027 PGA tours scheduled to occur there.

Additionally, Cuomo’s plan involves a 1.7 million dollar investment in Robert Moses State Park for a program that would allow the park to generate as much clean energy as it requires to function.

“New York is proud to once again lead the way and host the first energy-neutral state park in the country,” Governor Cuomo said. “This state is home to some of the most beautiful parks in the nation, and we remain committed to their protection and sustainability,” he said in his announcement of the program, which is also sponsored by PSEG Long Island.

Why are these measures needed? In short, these improvements can lead to an increase in tourism from not only Long Island residents but from people from all over the country. This, in turn, can bolster the local economy.

For example, more jobs for people of all ages will be more plentiful if tourism increases. While many high school students find jobs at Long Island State Parks each summer, an insurge of tourists can only mean more job and volunteering opportunities.

“Working at Tobay is probably one of the most fun jobs anyone can have,” junior Doug Brust said. “The work gets very tedious at times, but most of the time we all just joke around and make the workplace enjoyable.”

Additionally, improvements will enhance the overall visitor experience. With more activities planned for this summer than ever before — such as the return of Fourth of July Fireworks at Jones Beach and concerts throughout the summer — visitors can expect an exciting and memorable summer season.

With improvements to state parks throughout Long Island, one thing’s for sure: this summer is gearing up to be an unforgettable one for visitors and locals alike.

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