In the future, there should be a bigger state park for Kings Park. Only much of it is still contaminated with asbestos.
That's the bad part of a good deal announced during the waning days of the Pataki administration, when the state agreed to transfer hundreds of the remaining acres at the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center to the state's park system.
Just one problem: Who will pay to clean up the asbestos in twenty buildings there?
Parks Commissioner Carol Ash is wary of accepting so much contaminated land into the parks system, concerned that the cleanup could cost tens of millions of dollars, diverting scarce funds from other state parks.
So State Senator John Flanagan suggests voters be asked to approve a $500 million bond issue for the state's parks. That way more funds could also be set aside for the Kings Park cleanup, adding to $25 million state legislators already appropriated for the job.
Of course this bond proposal still needs legislative approval, and the support of Commissioner Ash and Governor Spitzer.
Certainly, the capital needs of the state's parks have been neglected, and the state has an obligation to clean up contaminants in buildings it constructed for mental patients.
Flanagan's bond approach might be the way to go.
John D. Fickes
East Islip, NY
This would be an acceptable way to spend money instead of all of the other frivolous waste that elected officials like to spend our money on. The state parks belong to all of us and many of us use them. Natural parkland is becoming more and more scarce, so what we do have should be well maintained so that the animals can continue to have a natural habitat and so that people can enjoy what the parks have to offer.