great Palisades Interstate Park system is also a Rockland asset
that protects a large amount of open space here, but it now needs
its own protection.
The Park Commission was founded in 1900 by Gov. Teddy Roosevelt
of New York and New Jersey Gov. Foster Voorhees to save the Palisades
cliffs from further blasting as stone was sought for New York
This bi-state partnership eventually resulted in 100,000 acres
of forest, wildlife habitats and cultural resources, from just
below the George Washington Bridge in Jersey and extending north
for 150 miles to Saugerties, N.Y.
The park system reports nine million visitors each year, with
the famous 5,056 acre Bear Mountain State Park the flagship. In
total, there are 24 public parks in both states, offering recreation,
camping, hiking and solitude, as well as rescuing land from relentless
The vast system is a jewel for New York and New Jersey, but it
has been woefully neglected by both Albany and Trenton. This Traveling
Editorial Page has commented numerous times on our visits to various
facilities, where we have seen deteriorated buildings and pavement,
as well as overtaxed facilities run by hardworking but inadequate
The Palisades Interstate Parkway, the Robert Moses-inspired route
to the parks for New York City visitors, is largely in poor shape
Back in the 1970s, Albany, in a budget move designed to help
New York City's fiscal woes, took the New York section of the
parkway from the PIPC and gave it to the state Department of Transportation
without sufficient funding. That and a state bond failure have
left the parkway section north of New City with its original 1950s
pavement and poor drainage. No renovation is in sight.
Millions of dollars are required to rebuild the Bear Mountain
Inn and other facilities in the parks, and the PIPC is in part
relying on the Friends of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission
In the donating spirit of the Averill Harriman family, George
Perkins and the Rockefellers, the Friends group hopes to protect
what Perkins called "A world of almost virgin nature which
has been rescued for the people," and which Laurance and
David Rockefeller termed "A grand story of a work in progress."
While we hope the Friends of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission
raise millions beyond what has already been secured for the inn,
etc., we again implore Albany and Trenton to:
• Improve the budget for the PIPC.
• Establish adequate maintenance spending.
• Secure federal assistance.
• Get New York City involved since so many visitors to
the park system come from Gotham. The city should be included
in funding and fund-raising.
• Establish a PIP road rehabilitation program that will
restore the highway to its original condition while guarding against
any widening as an interstate. It must remain a parkway set partially
in a relatively tranquil setting, as designed.
Unless major reinvestment is made in the holdings of the PIPC,
the great visions of the Roosevelts, Rockefellers and Perkins
to provide a vast "Central Park" for the masses will
be clouded history.
can you do?
Contact the Friends
of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission
Administration Building, Bear Mountain, NY 10911- 0427