Both preserves are important bird sanctuaries and migratory flyways that also protect diverse habitats and species.
In addition, the budget eliminates funding for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester (saving $990,000), which provides local horticulture, gardening, and ecological and conservation information to the public, as well as youth programs.
Judith A. Myers, a member of the the Environment and Energy Committee and Majority Whip of the Westchester County Board of Legislators is livid.
“I totally disagree with the proposal by the county executive (Executive Rob Astorino-R) to cut the funding for the six nature centers,” says Myers. “To remove the naturalists and curators, as proposed, is irresponsible and short-sighted. They provide the eyes and ears to prevent vandalism and destruction of sensitive environmental areas, as well as education to all residents.”
The four additional nature centers slated for closing are: Cranberry Lake Preserve in West Harrison, Croton Point Nature Center, Lenoir Preserve in Yonkers, and Trailside Nature Museum inside Ward Pound Ridge preserve in Cross River.
Overall, the proposed budget calls for a 5 percent reduction in spending for Parks and Recreation, bringing expenses down to $48 million from $51 million in 2011. Parks has 26 layoffs or 9 percent of the department.
There have been two public comment sessions on the proposed 2012 budget to date. On Tuesday December 6, the third and final public hearing on the 2012 budget will be held at the Board of Legislature Chambers, 8th Floor Michaelian Office Building, White Plains at 7 PM.