YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Dozens of volunteers descended upon Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park on Saturday morning for a massive cleanup project, including the man who funded it.
Across the state thousands of volunteers participated in cleanup and beautification events at more than 35 state parks and historic sites in the first I Love My Park Day, created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"New York state's parks system is one of the most elaborate, developed in the nation and a treasured asset for our state," Cuomo said. "I am thrilled that hundreds of New Yorkers have taken advantage of I Love My Park Day, with families and individuals across the state coming out to help get our parks ready for summer."
Cuomo dropped by for about 30 minutes to talk to volunteers and lend an occasional hand before leaving for a similar event in the Bronx.
Organized by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Parks & Trails New York, the initiative gives New Yorkers a chance to help clean up parklands and beaches, plant trees and gardens, restore trails and wildlife habitat, and remove invasive species in state parks.
Cuomo's New York Works Fund is providing $89 million to rehabilitate state parks, representing the single largest amount in history for New York's parks. About 83 percent of state parks are deteriorating according to the governor's office.
New York Works will spend $1.15 million on Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park to begin to repair deteriorated bathhouse facilities and repair the swimming pool's filtration system.
One of the groups on hand Saturday was the Friends of FDR State Park, which was founded a year ago by area residents to maintain the park and organize events in the park.
"Right now we have 35 members, but we're hoping that through days like this and other opportunities to talk to people, we'll be able to get people to understand that there's a group here dedicated to helping the park," said founding member Peter Hoernes.
The cleanup events were organized by Robin Dropkin, the executive director of Parks and Trails New York. The concept has been in the works for some time, she said.
"We've been thinking and planning and dreaming about it for a couple of years, so it's really exciting to see it come to fruition, and then the governor coming was like an extra cherry on top," Dropkin said.