Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation


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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Safety of Infrastructure

Issued: September 6, 2012
Link to full audit report 2012-S-29
Link to the 90-day response

To determine if the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (Parks) is maintaining its infrastructure to preserve park safety by properly inspecting and repairing any hazardous conditions identified. The audit period covered January 1, 2010 through May 18, 2012.

Parks operates 213 parks and historic sites in 11 regions around the State, encompassing nearly 350,000 acres. During 2011, about 57 million people visited these facilities and had access to a variety of recreational, cultural, historical and educational programs. Parks reports it has a backlog of rehabilitation projects valued at $1.1 billion that are needed, in part, to address health and safety needs. For 2012-13, Parks was appropriated about $89 million in additional funding to address capital rehabilitation projects. The agency everaged this amount with an additional $54 million of targeted State, federal and private funding.

Key Findings

  • Between April 12 and May 9, 2012, we visited 33 State parks and historic sites from Long Island to Niagara Falls, many of which were not yet fully open to the public. Overall, we found staff actively involved in inspecting facilities and repairing any hazardous conditions. Still, our visits confirmed that many infrastructure issues exist throughout the park system. In some cases, staff have been able to make repairs, but in others have either opted to cordon off certain areas to prevent public access, or in the most extreme cases, to close individual amenities or even sections of the parks to ensure public safety.
  • It is clear that the more time passes before these issues are addressed, the higher the cost will likely be. Further, where potentially hazardous infrastructure issues are likely to remain unaddressed for a long time, alternatives need to be considered to effect more permanent solutions.

Key Recommendations

  • Continue efforts to prioritize the parks' infrastructure needs and to make necessary repairs or replacements to facilities based on available funding.
  • Establish principles to guide the selection of alternative solutions in cases where potentially dangerous infrastructure problems are likely to remain unaddressed for an extended period of time.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation: Correcting Hazardous Conditions Identified by the Parks Inspection Program Report 2008-N-18

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236