New Bathhouse and Concession Building, Dune Restoration and "Green" Parking Lots Represent First Major Improvement to the Park in 50 Years
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced work has started on a $5.2 million beach area renovation project at Southwick Beach State Park on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. The project will be the first major improvement to the popular beachfront park in 50 years and will feature a new bathhouse and concession building as well as restored dunes and new "green" parking lots to enhance environmental protection at the park.
"State parks are essential to New York's thriving tourism industry and are gateways to the natural beauty the Empire State has to offer," Governor Cuomo said. "The addition of a new bathhouse and concession building combined with dune restoration and other environmental protection measures will help revitalize Southwick Beach State Park and create an even more welcoming destination for tourists and residents alike."
Southwick Beach State Park is the busiest day-use state park in the Thousand Island Region and boasts a 112-site campground. Current facilities are in need of upgrade as they no longer meet the needs of the park. Upgraded features will include:
- New concession kitchen and camp store;
- Public Gathering Space with outdoor fireplace, patio area, walkways and three rental pavilions;
- New showers, changing areas, and restroom space with ADA and family access;
- Laundry room for patron use;
- Games arcade;
- New entrance drive and sidewalk/bike path connection to campsites; and
- Lifeguard and first aid station.
The project also includes several features to protect the park's environment. New parking lots will be installed with proper storm water systems, bio retention ponds, and a combination of standard asphalt pavement, porous pavement, reinforced grass paver parking, and overflow grass parking to filter pollutants from stormwater runoff and protect water quality. The project will also construct an enhanced dune system to improve shoreline habitat and prevent erosion and blowing sand, and will include wood boardwalks and a treed day-use area.
Funding for the project comes from Governor Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 initiative and a $1 million grant from the Environmental Facilities Corporation.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "For generations Southwick Beach has been the scene of fun times and fond memories on Lake Ontario, and the beachfront makeover will help ensure that continues. We are fortunate to have one of the nation's great park systems. Thanks to Governor Cuomo for making the investment to protect, improve and expand public access to these precious resources."
New York State Environmental Facilities President and CEO Sabrina M. Ty said, "New York's state parks belong to all who call our state home, and we must do all we can to ensure they remain vibrant and ecologically sound for generations to come. The Environmental Facilities Corporation is proud to be a part of Governor Cuomo's ongoing efforts to safeguard our most irreplaceable natural environments."
Senator Patty Ritchie said, "Southwick Beach State Park is a gem of our region, used by tens of thousands of people every year for everything from camping to swimming. I am pleased these improvements will soon be made and can't wait to see how they enhance the park, attract more visitors to our region, better protect the environment and help more people enjoy beautiful Lake Ontario for generations to come."
Assemblyman Will Barclay said, "I am glad to see the State Parks office will be making investments in Southwick Beach. This beach and campground is a destination point for our region. Providing more amenities and badly needed updates to bathrooms, showers and the parking area will make Southwick more accessible and accommodating for more people who wish to enjoy Lake Ontario."
Jefferson County Chairman, Board of Legislators Scott Gray said, "Our lake and river fronts in Jefferson County are our scenic treasures and tourism is one main economic engines in our area. We value our state parks as part of our tourism and we are happy for the investment in our scenic park overlooking Lake Ontario."
The 540-acre Southwick Beach State Park is spacious and popular, known for outstanding swimming and sunning on its long sandy beach. More than 120,000 annual campers and day-users enjoy picnicking, hiking and games on the playing fields.
The park improvements reflect Governor Cuomo's commitment to revitalizing the state park system and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment of $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks to 2020. In addition, Connect Kids to Parks program provides free day-use park entry to fourth-grade students and their families, and offers transportation grants to help students from underserved schools visit state parks and historic sites.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual state parks, historic sites, golf courses, boat launches and recreational trails, which are visited by 71 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit parks.ny.gov, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.