Alliance for New York State Parks Calls for “Pennies for Parks” Fee on Plastic Bags

 Source: The Alliance for New York State Parks

In response to the cuts of $17 miiion the New York State Parks department, the Alliance For New York State Parks called for the a “Pennies for Parks” program.  This program is a one cent fee charged to consumers for disposable grocery store plastic bags.

A poll conducted in December, 2010 shows that 73 percent of New Yorkers support the penny surcharge if the generated funds were dedicated to keeping state parks open and well maintained.

“The crisis facing New York’s state parks goes far beyond this year’s budget proposal.  From failing swimming pools and bathrooms and crumbling masonry to outdated water and electrical systems, our parks have been diminishing before our eyes over the past decades.  And although parks may be open, there are pools and campsites not open to the public due to the continuing deterioration of the system,” said Kulleseid.     “We must reverse this trend.”

An assessment completed last year by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation estimated that more than a billion dollars is needed to repair, restore and update the system of 178 parks and 35 historic sites.

In announcing the “Pennies for Parks” campaign, Kulleseid explained that the one cent fee is expected to generate $60 million a year, while reducing the number of bags that end up in landfills.  He also stressed that the fee would be avoidable if shoppers turned to reusable bags.  

In addition to the poll numbers, Kulleseid pointed to rising park attendance and last year’s reaction to proposed park closures as evidence that New Yorkers support their state parks.  

“It’s ironic that even as more and more New Yorkers are visiting parks and we have come to better understand the sense of community pride and economic activity associated with parks, state support to operate and maintain them continues to decline,” he said.  “As Governor Cuomo has inspired  New Yorkers to ‘build a New York for future generations’ our state parks must be restored to a place of greatness.”

The December, 2010 survey of 1,000 registered New York State voters was conducted by Buffalo pollster Barry Zeplowitz and Associates.  

As part of the survey, voters were asked their feelings regarding a charge on plastic bags used by grocery stores.  Specifically, the question read, “If the amount charged was one penny per bag, and you knew it would raise $60 million annually to keep state parks open and well maintained for your use, would you support such a charge?” The response was 73 percent favorable (35 percent strongly) and 24 percent unfavorable (11 percent strongly).