PLATTSBURGH - The voices of those in favor of keeping Point au Roche State Park open have been heard.
Despite the rainy weather, dozens in favor of keeping Point au Roche off the list of potential state parks and historic sites to be closed gathered March 21 at the PARC Oval.
Friends of Point au Roche State Park - a nonprofit organization formed "to protect, preserve, and promote Point au Roche State Park" - organized the rally, with many of its members bearing signs and fond memories of the local landmark situated on the banks of Lake Champlain.
"I was particularly pleased," said Mary Simmers, president of the Friends of Point au Roche. "They came out despite the weather."
"It's an absolute jewel of nature in our midst," said Gary O'Connor, one of the supporters at the rally.
The park is important to O'Connor because he goes there at least four or five times every week, he said. That kind of opportunity is one he wants everyone to continue to have.
"It's a shame to take away this chance to experience it," said O'Connor.
Marty Weikart, another Point au Roche supporter at the rally, had a hand in the upkeep of the park, cleaning and repairing structures that exist on the property today. Weikart said he remembers going to camp at Point au Roche as a child.
"My parents met at that camp," he said Weikart. "It's a great place with a lot of history."
Mike Champagne and Barrett Waling were two supporters who frequently run and train with their cross-country team at the park.
"We heart Point au Roche," said Champagne, adding he didn't know where they would practice if the park shuts down.
"For the people of the area, it is a magnificent facility for getting out of the city," said Pat Lynch, another attendee.
Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey, R-Peru, was among politicians in attendance for the rally, speaking to the crowd in support of their effort. Duprey said she was "very confident that the state parks will stay open." There has been no official decision to act on the closure of the proposed list of parks and historic sites - which also locally include Macomb State Park in the town of Peru - however, Duprey said the state Legislature is reviewing how it can secure $11.3 million to keep the sites open.
In the meantime, Duprey asked everybody to buy more Empire Passes, which allow unlimited access to NYS parks for a $70 fee.
"We're going to have to monitor exactly what's happening with the budget," Simmers said.
Michael O'Keefe is an intern with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.