A conservation group Thursday echoed a New York Times travel writer's comments that Niagara Falls State Park is underfinanced and poorly maintained by the state.
The director of the Alliance for New York State Parks said the condition of facilities in the state park is poor, including worn-out paths and railings and failing sewer, water, drainage and electrical systems.
"For too long, our state parks have been allowed to deteriorate to the point where public experience at parks is being diminished, and in some cases, facilities have been closed and services reduced," Erik Kulleseid, director of the Alliance for New York State Parks, said in a statement. "Failure to properly maintain this landmark is shortsighted."
The comments came a week after New York Times travel writer Barbara Ireland called the park "shabby" and "underfinanced."
State parks officials did not return calls for comment.
Ireland's description of the city and park touted the natural feel for the U.S. side as opposed to the Canadian side, including what she called "charming pedestrian bridges," but Kulleseid said the pedestrian bridge between Goat Island and the brink of the falls is "a prominent eyesore."
"People walk along the waterfront, and it's all these well-worn footpaths that are on the edge of the water," he said. "There's nothing there to protect the landscape, to protect from erosion."
Kulleseid said the park, which was "meant to be a very naturalistic place," needs to be updated and re-evaluated. "It's a need to restore or rethink the landscape," he said. "It's updating and reflecting the new way that Goat Island is used."
The nonprofit alliance was formed last year in response to the state budget crisis and its impact on state parks. Former state parks commissioner Carol Ash is currently an adviser to the group, Kulleseid said.
The state closed three parks in the region last year because of finances, but Woodlawn Beach, Knox Farm and Joseph Davis state parks all remain open largely because the towns where they're located stepped up to maintain them.
"It became apparent that we needed to have additional organizations out there advocating for the system," Kulleseid said.
The organization, part of the larger nonprofit Open Space Initiative, advocating for environmental causes throughout the Northeast, has called for a funding system for state parks centered around private donations and partnerships, and a "Pennies for Parks" proposal.
Under the proposal, a 1-cent fee would be charged to consumers who use disposable shopping bags. The funds would be used for the parks and to encourage the use of reusable bags. Similar proposals have been enacted elsewhere.
A penny fee would generate $60 million per year, Kulleseid said, citing a 2010 survey by Buffalo pollster Barry Zeplowitz that showed widespread support for the measure.