We Are NYProject Upgrades Include Improved Parking, Enhanced Exhibits, ADA-Accessible Restrooms and Sustainability Upgrades 

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Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of a new Visitor Center, improved parking and enhanced exhibits at Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park on the South Shore of Long Island. The new 1,600 square-foot Visitor Center will educate visitors about the Cutting family and their historic 60-room, Tudor-style mansion, the landscaped grounds with wide variety of trees, shrubs and plants, and the impact of ongoing climate change on Long Island.  

"Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park is a historic oasis, and these improvements will make it an even more enriching and enjoyable experience for New Yorkers and out-of-state visitors,” Governor Hochul said. “The arboretum is a shining example of the great estates on the South Shore of Long Island during the 19th century, and with these upgrades, we are protecting this invaluable public resource and our environment and ensuring generations enjoy it long into the future.” 

Now open to the public, the Visitor Center welcomes individuals, families, students, and other groups to discover the parks, walks, gardens, and “collections” of trees that they can experience at Bayard Cutting Arboretum. The Visitor Center features an updated gift shop with official merchandise and pre-packaged food offerings; a staffed information desk featuring park navigation information and literature about the arboretum; and illustrated graphic displays and visually compelling exhibitions to support visitors’ enjoyment, learning, and appreciation.  

Key Visitor Center exhibit elements include tree specimens that introduce the types and characteristics of the trees that visitors can encounter; an interactive map where visitors can learn about each of the Arboretum’s “collections” of trees; an animated, illustrated short film revealing the life processes of a coniferous tree; and an illustrated timeline starting with the indigenous peoples who lived in the area and taking visitors through the land’s long history. The Visitor Center also introduces the impact of climate change and demonstrates Bayard Cutting Arboretum’s efforts to mitigate its effects. 

External restrooms are ADA-accessible, and the Visitor Center features a photovoltaic solar power array on its roof. Now fully installed and operational, Bayard Cutting Arboretum is the newest of over 50 solar powered projects generating renewable electricity in State Parks since 2012. The Center’s wall windows were installed with an aesthetically pleasing glass treatment intended to reduce bird collisions with building.

248 new, asphalt-paved and standard-width parking spaces replace the previous array of undersized parking spaces and were designed to improve storm water drainage and water quality. Additional sustainability efforts include LED parking lot lighting, electric vehicle charging stations (six in total, two of which will be ADA accessible). 

Chief Disability Officer Kimberly Hill Ridley said, “I applaud every step that our New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation agency does to improve access for people with disabilities. All New Yorkers, including those with every type of disability, should have access to utilize and enjoy everything that our amazing parks system has to offer. We count New York State parks as one of our partners in improving the quality of life for our disability community.”  

New York State Parks Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons said, “State Parks is thrilled to welcome all to Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park’s new Visitor Center, a facility that will provide the perfect introduction to this ‘museum of trees’ and enhance their overall experience at the arboretum. The new Visitor Center’s rooftop solar array also gets us one step closer to Governor Hochul’s goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030.” 

Bayard Cutting Arboretum Board of Trustees Chair Scott Wise said, “This project is the result of years of thoughtful planning by New York State Parks’ Long Island region and the private trustees who supervise an endowment created by Mrs. Cutting when she agreed with Robert Moses to create the arboretum over 80 years ago. It should greatly enhance the visitor experience and the educational mission of our jewel of a place, which has become one of the highest professionally ranked arboreta in the country. It will now be easier for the public to understand why.” 

NHT Executive Director Sally Drake said, “The Natural Heritage Trust is proud to be a partner with New York State Parks and the Bayard Cutting Arboretum to administer private funding in support of projects at the park like the beautiful new Visitor Center that will enhance the visitor’s experience and showcase its remarkable natural and educational resources. The Arboretum is a stellar example of the power of philanthropy to preserve, enhance and expand access to our state’s public lands, and we thank the Board of Trustees for their steadfast stewardship of the “museum of trees”, ensuring it will be enjoyed and appreciated for many generations to come.”   

Outside of the Visitor Center, a large map of the property is displayed, and engraved pavers showcase donors. Electrical service at the Cutting mansion—one of last remaining 19th century great estates on the south shore—has also been upgraded.  

Funding for the $12.2 million project has been sourced from New York Works, Land and Water Conservation Fund, Bayard Cutting Arboretum Board of Trustees via the Natural Heritage Trust, and Environmental Protection Fund.  

2023 attendance at the arboretum was 482,508, and since 2003, more than 5.3 million people have visited the 691-acre park situated on the picturesque Connetquot River. Bayard Cutting Arboretum is a Level IV ArbNet accredited Arboretum, one of 43 arboreta in the entire world accredited for management of tree collections for the purpose of tree conservation and was designed by noted landscape architectural firm of Frederick Law Olmsted. The park has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973 as a historic district. 

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which saw a record 84 million visits in 2023. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer app or call 518.474.0456. Join us in celebrating our Centennial throughout 2024, and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and the OPRHP Blog