Governor Cuomo Announces Groundbreaking of $3.8 Million Thacher Park Center

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the groundbreaking of Thacher Park Center, a $3.8 million project that will provide a much-needed anchor for visitors who want to explore the 2,500-acre park on Albany County’s Helderberg Escarpment. The center is a signature project in the Governor’s NY Parks 2020 Plan to revitalize and transform the state park system.

“Thacher State Park is a true gem for the Capital Region, and we are committed to making it more accessible for families and visitors,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are investing in our state parks to offer active, new recreational opportunities that will help make them year-round attractions. This project will provide a new setting for visitors to gather, learn, and enjoy the park’s panoramic views of Hudson Valley, Adirondacks, Green and Berkshire Mountains.”

The center, to be set next to the trailhead and picnic area for the popular Indian Ladder Trail, will introduce visitors to new park features, including an expanded trail network, as well as new opportunities for biking, rock climbing, caving, environmental education and an new high-ropes adventure course. The activities are part of the plan announced by the Governor to reinvigorate the park.

The 8,240-square-foot Thacher Park Visitor Center will include:

  • a welcome information desk to help visitors explore the park’s expansive trail network and other features;
  • a grand lobby and exhibit area to highlight the park’s fossil-rich geological history;
  • a 1,340-square-foot multipurpose gathering space that can be reserved for special events such as weddings and family reunions; 
  • public restrooms and park offices; and
  • an outdoor patio overlooking the escarpment where visitors can take in the park’s dramatic views.

Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks), said, “Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 plan is improving and reinvigorating our parks – and in doing so connecting new visitors and tourists to these incredible places. Thacher Park is undergoing an exciting transformation, and the Thacher Visitor Center will be the anchor where new and returning visitors can enjoy and learn about this defining feature of the Capital Region’s landscape.”

The center’s groundbreaking also kicks off the Campaign for Thacher Park Center that will leverage the state’s $3.8 million investment for the structure itself. This private fundraising campaign will target state-of-the-art exhibit installations highlighting the park’s unique geology, natural history and spectacular scenery; as well as well-appointed common areas and a sustaining endowment. Spearheaded by the Open Space Institute, the Campaign for the Thacher Park Center has raised $370,000 toward a $1 million fundraising goal, including a $220,000 matching grant through the Capital Region Economic Development Council and a $50,000 gift from Trustco Bank. For information on the campaign, visit www.thacherparkcenter.org.

Senator George Amedore said, “Thacher Park is a jewel within the Capital Region, and the new Visitor Center is a welcome addition that will highlight the expanded recreational facilities the park has to offer and help to attract even more visitors to enjoy this beautiful natural resource.”

Senator Neil Breslin said, “This new $3.8 million center will help bring even more visitors to beautiful Thacher Park. I applaud Governor Cuomo and the New York Office of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for continuing their investment in our state park system.”

Assemblywoman Patricia A. Fahy said, “For generations of Capital Region residents and New Yorkers, Thacher Park has been a jewel in our state parks system. Many thanks to the Governor for his foresight to invest in New York State by building the new Thacher Park Center and continuing the commitment made by Emma Treadwell Thacher 101 years ago. This new center will allow more to enjoy this treasured environmental asset for many years to come.”

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara said, “The state’s investment in this new center for Thacher Park will attract tourists to our hidden gem and help promote this tremendous natural asset. I am proud to have a strong partnership with Thacher Park and I believe this project is part of a bright future for the park.”

Assemblyman John T. McDonald III said, “The investment by the state for the Thacher State Park Center is in my eyes and the eyes of many a wise investment in one of our area’s richest resources. Investments like this bring a centrality to the spacious public park and is a prudent investment of public funds for the region we represent. We appreciate the Governor’s vision and the work of the New York State Park agency and look forward to the completion of this project in the near future, which will bring benefit to the public at large.”

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, “Thacher Park, named after Albany Mayor, John Boyd Thacher, is a treasure to Albany County, its residents and the many visitors who come each year to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys along the Helderberg Escarpment. I thank Governor Cuomo for investing in the Thacher Park Center which will enhance the experience for everyone who visits.”

Erik Kulleseid, Senior Vice President of the Open Space Institute and Executive Director of its Alliance for New York State Parks program said, “From the generous legacy of the Thacher family to current efforts to expand and protect this Capital District treasure, Thacher Park is deeply rooted in generations of families, researchers and preservationists. To preserve this splendid place, the Open Space Institute has safeguarded more than a thousand acres along the Helderberg escarpment over the past 40 years, doubling the size of Thacher Park and protecting its magnificent view sheds. In leading the private fundraising effort to support the new Thacher Park Center, OSI renews its commitment to Thacher Park and we are confident that area residents will do the same and support the new Thacher Park Center.”

Friends of Thacher State Park President John Kilroy said, “Consistent with our mission to support and promote the Park, the Friends of Thacher State Park embrace the Center and Capital Campaign as a next important step in the revitalization of Thacher. We welcome this new era in the evolution of the Park and increased opportunity for an even broader audience to experience the Helderberg Escarpment’s beauty, geology and history.”

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State is making a strong commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor’s NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor’s 2015-16 Executive Budget allocates $110 million toward this initiative.

Thacher Park, visited by more than 300,000 people every year, sits at the top of the Helderberg escarpment, one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world, and features miles of hiking and biking trails, guided walks and interpretive programs, playgrounds, picnic areas, and swimming and camping at Thompson’s Lake.