BRIAN SCAVO FIGHTS TO SAVE THATCHER PARK
Albany County Legislator Brian Scavo has an idea that would warm the heart of the late Democratic boss Dan O'Connell.
With word that the locally beloved John Boyd Thacher Park -- near O'Connell's Helderberg summer retreat -- is on the short list to be shuttered amid state budget cuts, Scavo has a modest proposal for the state:
Hand it over.
That is, if the state refuses to keep it open, transfer authority over the park to Albany County.
"I firmly believe we could take this popular park, without a tax increase, and turn it into a money-making proposition and keep it open for the people," said Scavo, a first-term Democrat who represents the Delaware Avenue area in Albany.
Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, stressed there is no list of parks that are closing but noted, hypothetically, that the concept of a local government running a state park is not without precedent.
The municipality has to be willing and capable of taking on the task, she noted.
County Executive Mike Breslin's office, however, was considerably less enthusiastic about the idea than Scavo.
With the county facing a budget deficit projected at $25 million to $30 million in 2011, Breslin "would not consider" taking on responsibility for Thacher, said county spokeswoman Mary Duryea.
Not to mention, Duryea noted, that the county doesn't actually have a parks department equipped to handle anything on the scale of Thacher's picturesque acreage.
Asked whether his colleagues from the western part of the county, where Thacher is located, supported his idea, Scavo said they have little choice given the damage the park's closure would do to the Hilltowns' economies.
"They couldn't not support it,"
xml version="1.0" ?>