The steady decline in the state parks budget, mandated layoffs, and early retirements mean that three western New York parks are on the chopping block: Knox Farm in East Aurora, Woodlawn Beach in Hamburg, and Joseph Davis in Lewiston. Herkimer Home State Historic Site near Little Falls is also slated to close.
These closings have left park supporters scrambling in eleventh-hour efforts to keep their parks open through corporate sponsorships, public-private partnerships or local government management.
The Town of Hamburg has reached a 10-year deal with the state to allow continued public access to Woodlawn Beach State Park. Under the terms of the agreement, the state maintains ownership of the park, but the town is entitled to any revenues generated.
Lewiston town officials are seeking a 20-year lease agreement with the state to take control of 375-acre Joseph Davis State Park, known for its Frisbee golf course. The Town of East Aurora is in discussion to work out an agreement to keep open Knox Farm State Park, the former country estate of Buffalo’s renowned Knox family.
However, most local municipalities are struggling with their own budgets and hard-pressed to muster the resources to take on management of a state park, never mind an historic site with valuable buildings and artifacts.