Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

April 30, 2007

For Release: Immediate
Press Contact:
Eileen Larrabee

Ash Appoints Former Chautauqua County Executive mark Thomas As State Parks Western District Director

Cites Extensive Experience and Strong Community Ties

(Albany, New York, April 30, 2007) Carol Ash, Commissioner of the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, today announced the appointment of former Chautauqua County Executive Mark W. Thomas as Director of the Western District. As such, Thomas will oversee the Niagara, Allegany and Genesee Region of the New York State Parks.

"The role of Director of the Western District is vitally important to the overall operations of the New York State Parks system and I am confident that Mark Thomas, with his experience, abilities and strong regional ties, will prove to be a great asset to the area and the entire New York State Parks system," said Ash, citing Thomas' extensive management background and wide-ranging parks and environmental-related work experience.

Ash's appointment of Thomas comes on the heals of a three-day visit to Western New York, during which she toured several of the area's New York State parks and historic sites and met with a number of community leaders.

In stressing the importance of the area to the state parks system, Ash noted that just as the region was her first destination upon her confirmation as Commissioner, so is the appointment of the Western New York director the first of the state's regional directors to be named.

"Western New York Parks and Historic Sites are integral to our overall statewide system," said Ash. "There are many challenges facing the region and those who live here. I fully expect State Parks to contribute to the area's recreational, economic development and environmental future."

Thomas served as Chautauqua County Executive from 1998 through 2005. In addition to a solid record in the areas of job creation and increased accountability and efficiency at the county level, he also had notable environmental achievements related to cleaning waste tire dumps, brownfields, redevelopment issues and the establishment of new county parks.

After completing his term as county executive, Thomas was employed by the SUNY Fredonia Center for Rural Regional Development and Governance. There, he managed the Regional Intermunicipal Service Project which researched and promoted the advancement of shared and consolidated municipal services throughout seven Western New York Counties as a means to reduce the cost of local government.

Earlier in his career, Thomas also served as Pomfret Town Supervisor. Prior to that he was employed by the Faculty Student Association at SUNY Brockport where he was responsible for all aspects of facility operations and programming for a 500-acre recreation and educational field campus for the college and community.

Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation and Parks Administration from the University of Illinois, one of the top schools in the country in the field.

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