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Local state park visitors will see many improvements this summer

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — When swimmers, boaters and campers pack parks and boat launches of the Thousand Islands Region of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation this summer, they’ll see many improvements.

Regional Director Kevin A. Kieff said many projects throughout the state-run sites are “in pretty good shape.”

“There are also some exciting projects we’re bidding out now with the New York Works money the governor directed toward our agency,” he said.

Last year, the region, which stretches across 27 sites from southern Jefferson County to as far northeast as Plattsburgh, Essex County, received $3.2 million from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo through the NY Works Initiative. A total of $90 million was available throughout the state and encouraged rebuilding infrastructure.

Visitors to Wellesley Island State Park will see a new entrance drive and toll booth reconfiguration and a recreational vehicle dump station, while an improved boat launch area recently opened at Long Point State Park, Three Mile Bay, and a new playground at Grasse Point State Park, Alexandria Bay.

Dewolf Point State Park, Wellesley Island, recently added a comfort station.

“The winter did put us behind, but (last) week it came up fully operational,” Mr. Kieff said.

On Friday, hundreds of people gathered in the picnic areas atop Westcott Beach State Park’s main and south beaches. More visitors grilled, played frisbee and basketball and lay out under the sun than were swimming in Lake Ontario. About lunchtime Friday, the wind picked up and fewer than a few dozen swimmers were in the choppy waters.

Later that afternoon, only a handful of people walked around the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, which had sections blocked off for people to watch fireworks in the village that night.

At Keewaydin State Park, Alexandria Bay, where the state parks regional office is located, construction for a pavilion and comfort station recently wrapped up. Mr. Kieff said a few other projects are underway at other local park locations. Ground will break after Labor Day for a new beach bath house at Grasse Point State Park.

“Most of them are 50 years plus,” Mr. Kieff said.

Facility improvements made possible by the recent state cash flow are the first of their kind in decades, he said. Wellesley Island, which he said is the biggest camping park in the state, will have a reconstructed full-service camping loop for about 50 sites. All underground utilities there will be updated.

“It’s popular because of the full-hookup reservations,” he said. “When we knew we were doing this project, we didn’t accept reservations after Labor Day for that (loop).”

Until then, Mr. Kieff said, he expects parks to be full many weekends and on the hottest of days.

For more information on parks throughout the Thousand Islands region, visit http://wdt.me/aUoBTW.

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