By Don Glynn
NIAGARA FALLS —
Despite the threat that many state parks would be shut down over the Memorial Day weekend, attendance at the Niagara Falls State Park exceeded the number of visitors for the same period a year ago.
As it turned out, an 11th hour agreement between the governor and the state Legislature enabled the targeted 41 parks and 14 historic sites to remain open.
The Falls park — the nation’s oldest state park — was never on the list of closures that Gov. Paterson described as part of his strategy to deal with the budget deficit in Albany.
Parks spokesman Angela Berti said Tuesday that attendance at the Niagara Reservation — Prospect Park, Goat Island, and the area around the Niagara Discovery Center — reached 181,607 for the three-day weekend starting Saturday, up 2,122 from the same period in 2009.
Overall in the 17 parks of the Niagara Region, attendance was 215,201, down about 1,100 from last year. Many of the regional parks reported slight increases.
Wilson-Tuscarora State Park, one of two area parks initially scheduled to close, was down 806 in attendance from a year ago. The under-used Joseph Davis State Park, Lewiston, reported 130 visitors, compared with 261 in 2009.
Attendance at Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown, was 5,750, up 658.
Other sites showing an increase over 2009: Evangola State Park; Artpark; Woodlawn Beach, Hamburg; DeVeaux Woods, Beaver Island, Grand Island; and Four Mile Creek Camp Site.
A look at how many people visited local parks this Memorial Day weekend compared to 2009.
Park 2010 2009
• Niagara Falls 181,607 179,485
• Wilson-Tuscarora 2,180 2,986
• Joseph Davis 130 261
• Fort Niagara 5,750 5,082
• Artpark 435 434
• Beaver Island 9,212 7,640