Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 05, 2015

Randy Simons | Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868 | news@parks.ny.gov

State Parks Announces Start of Construction on $1.9 Million Project to Transform Taughannock Falls State Park Overlook

Taughannock Overlook Revitalization Will Provide Additional Visitor Amenities While Helping to Protect Cayuga Lake

A $1.9 million project that will transform the popular Overlook area at Taughannock Falls State Park broke ground today, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced. The multifaceted project, funded by Governor Cuomo's New York Parks 2020 plan and the Environmental Facility Corporation's Green Innovation Grant Program, will include new picnic areas, a three-season comfort station, native plant gardens and a redesigned parking area featuring permeable pavement that will better protect the surrounding environment.

"Transforming the Overlook of the exceptional Taughannock Falls will provide visitors with additional amenities while helping to reduce runoff into Cayuga Lake," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 plan we are revitalizing our state park system into one for the 21st century."

Central to the renovation is the construction of a new three-season comfort station and a small, adjoining multi-purpose room. A seasonal traveler information counter will be staffed by the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"The ability to partner with Parks and operate a satellite visitor information center at the Overlook at Taughannock Falls State Park means we can engage travelers at one of the most scenic and most visited spots in the Finger Lakes," said Bruce Stoff, Director of the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "This opportunity will allow us to answer questions and point visitors to other sites and businesses in Ithaca, Trumansburg and the rest of the Finger Lakes."

The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation's Green Innovation Grant Program provided a $320,000 grant for a permeable pavement system designed to collect and filter stormwater. This will reduce soil erosion and better manage pollutants that would typically enter Cayuga Lake from polluted runoff from a traditional paved surface.

The Green Innovation Grant Program funds more than 100 green stormwater projects in New York State. More than $14 million is now available in new GIGP grants and applications may be submitted through Governor Cuomo's Regional Economic Development initiative. More information on the program can be found at: http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/.

"The porous surface that will be installed on the Overlook parking lot will absorb and gradually cleanse the stormwater runoff that would otherwise make its way into Cayuga Lake," said EFC President and CEO Matthew Driscoll. "The result will be amazing as water will seem to literally disappear through the surface of the parking lot."

Native plantings to be installed will focus on species found in or near the Park, including: meadow plantings with a wide diversity of grasses and flowers; shrubs such as spicebush, indigo bush, witchhazel and maple-leaf viburnum; and trees such as cucumber magnolia, chinquapin oak, pagoda dogwood, eastern red cedar and basswood.

The project is currently scheduled for completion in May 2016. Access to the Overlook and the Civilian Conservation Corps-era staircase will be maintained throughout the project. While parking at the Overlook will be reduced to accommodate the transformation, overflow parking will be available across the street in a temporary parking lot and in the Park's lot upstream from the falls on Jacksonville Road. Directional signs will assist patrons.

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making a historic 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.

Situated as a destination along the longest running wine trail in New York, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, the popular Finger Lakes park is also home to campsites and cabins that overlook Cayuga Lake, a marina, boat launch, beach and multi-use trails perfect for non-stop enjoyment. Taughannock Falls State Park's namesake waterfall is one of the outstanding natural attractions in the Northeast. Taughannock Falls plunges 215 feet past rocky cliffs that tower nearly 400 feet above the gorge. Gorge and rim trails offer majestic views from above the falls and from below at the end of the gorge trail.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 62 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

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