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Cuomo: $6.1M for new visitor center at Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Poughkeepsie Journal logo Poughkeepsie Journal 12/7/2019 Ryan Santistevan, Poughkeepsie Journal

Construction is underway for a $6.1 million, 5,000-square-foot welcome center at Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Kerhonkson.

Visitors will have access to bathrooms and public drinking water, needs identified by a 2014 visitor survey conducted by the Open Space Institute, who is a partner of the public-private project. 

The center will feature classrooms, programming and exhibits to educate visitors about the preserve's "natural and recreational features," according to a release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, adding that 500,000 people visit the park annually. 

The state is committing $21.2 million, as a part of the $28.2 million public-private investment in the preserve as part of Cuomo's 2020 state parks initiative, according the release. 

The overall project looks to renovate more than 21 miles of carriage roads, change the main entrance from Route 44/55 to avoid traffic backups, create a campground for the Shawangunk Gateway, add walkways, install stormwater infrastructure, landscape and more site improvements. 

"New York is home to world-class parks and recreational activities that attract tourists from all across the globe," Cuomo said in a statement. "This new visitor center will provide much-needed amenities and new learning experiences to the thousands of tourists who come to the gem that is Minnewaska State Park every year, helping to boost tourism across the entire mid-Hudson Valley."

The Open Space Institute previously restored 4.5 miles of the park's smiley Carriage Road, which reopened this fall. The project cost $1.9 million, with support from the Butler Conservation Fund and the Environmental Protection Fund. 

Open Space Institute President and CEO Kim Elliman said in a statement the organization's commitment to the visitor center and road restoration "builds on decades of work to protect the spectacular Minnewaska landscape and make it more accessible and enjoyable for the public." 

He added that they also have restored more than 12 miles of carriage roads and doubled the park's size by more than 12,000 acres. 

Pat Ryan, Ulster County Executive, said he is "thrilled" with support to restore and enhance the experience for visitors to the state park. 

"The new visitor center will be an asset to the residents of Ulster County and help expand our local tourism industry along with continuing to bolster Minnewaska’s reputation as one of the region’s treasured recreational assets," Ryan said. 

Ryan Santistevan: rsantistev@poughkeepsiejournal.com; 845-437-4809; Twitter: @NewsByRyan_

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This article originally appeared on Poughkeepsie Journal: Cuomo: $6.1M for new visitor center at Minnewaska State Park Preserve

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