Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 20, 2007

For Release: Immediate
Press Contact:
Eileen Larrabee

State Parks Commissioner Ash Calls For Bigger, Better Bottle Bill

Joins Local Officials And Advocates In Urging State Legislators To Update Existing Law

New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash today joined local officials and advocates in calling for the enactment of a Bigger, Better Bottle Bill in New York State. At a news conference held at Rockland Lake State Park, community children offered "messages in a bottle" in order to draw attention to the issue. Legislation has been proposed by Governor Eliot Spitzer that would update the existing law to include non-carbonated beverages, such as water, juice and sports drinks.

Next month marks the 25th anniversary of the state's container deposit law. Since 1982, more than 25 billion containers have been recycled and not ended up as litter. Ash noted, however, that consumer practices have changed dramatically and the law needs to be modernized.

"Consumer habits have changed substantially from when the original law was enacted. Each year a growing number of bottles and cans end up in the trash or marring our state's parkland, roadways and neighborhoods. From an environmental standpoint, we must do better."

"I've gotten dozens and dozens of calls and emails from my constituents in support of the Bigger, Better Bottle Bill," said Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern). "The original bill was appropriate when it was adopted over 20 years ago, but now it's time to increase our efforts. This bill will enhance curbside recycling programs and provide funding that will directly go to protecting our environment."

"Our cleanup volunteers just bagged about 30 tons of trash from Rockland's streets, parks and streams. The expanded bottle bill will allow us to spend less time picking up trash and more time planting flowers," said Andy Stewart, executive director of Keep Rockland Beautiful, Inc.

Ash also stressed the related importance of using unclaimed bottle deposits in support of state parks and other important environmental projects. "Ensuring that parks and historic sites here in Rockland County and throughout the state are provided the necessary resources to protect our environment and serve the public are priorities of this agency," said Ash. "As such, the single most pressing issue the state parks system is facing is a statewide backlog of capital needs. Under the proposed bill, unclaimed nickels would be used to provide much-needed funding for these projects."

According to Ash, among the local capital park projects identified for work over the next several years are:

- Reconstruction of the Sebago Lake Dam ($4 million)
- Sewer System Replacement and Upgrades at Harriman State Park ($10 million)
- Upgrade the electric service at Harriman State Park ($6 million)
- Bathhouse and pool renovation at Rockland Lake State Park ($1.3 million)
- Water system rehabilitation and replacement at Bear Mountain State Park ($2 million)
- Rehabilitation of the bathhouse at Tallman Mountain State Park ($300,000)

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