Today’s news:

$100K Lookout Hill makeover - Expect a better Prospect Pk

Lookout Hill, Prospect Park’s prime bird-watching hub and annual haunted roost for Halloween revelers, is a getting a $100,000 boost from the State of New York. The money will help the Prospect Park Alliance repair 1,000 feet of Lookout Hill’s concrete pathway stretching from Center Drive all the way to Wildflower Meadow. It’ll also help the group clear four to six clogged catch basins along the route near Prospect Park Southwest which now suffer from chronic flooding. “New York’s expansive trail system offers year-round recreation opportunities for the many outdoor enthusiasts who live and visit our great state,” now former Governor George Pataki said last week in announcing the grants. “Through these grants, we can continue to expand, improve, and protect our trails, providing valuable access to the spectacular scenery, and vast open spaces across the Empire State.” Work is expected to commence in the spring after the funds – part of a $2.5 million funding package from the federal Recreational Trails Program – are cleared through the New York City Parks Department. Prospect Park has a 2.5 mile network of nature trails running through the green space. Erosion is a continuing problem along the steep slopes that form Lookout Hill, and volunteers work tirelessly throughout the year to try and combat the problem. As one of the highest points in the entire borough, Lookout Hill affords birdwatchers phenomenal views of a wide-ranging assortment of migratory birds along the Atlantic flyway. Keen-eyed observes have even caught some of the park’s many squirrels in life and death battles with the Red Tail Hawks that rule the skies overhead. “Parts of the path will be closed for Construction,” said Prospect Park Alliance Spokesperson Eugene Patron. “But ultimately people will have easier access.” Members of the Prospect Park Alliance are also hoping that the money will be cleared through the Parks Department quickly, so that the Annual Halloween Haunted Walk planned for October can proceed without problems. New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Bernadette Castro said, “These latest awards will help local communities across the state protect their unique environmental character while strengthening the statewide trail network so that we can all share in the scenic beauty that New York has to offer.” New York State boasts some 20,000 miles of trails located throughout its park lands. Denise M. Sheehan, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation called the trail grants “important reminders of how valuable our state’s natural resources are to our everyday lives and of New York’s strong commitment to protect and preserve these resources.” “It’s essential that we continue to protect natural areas so that all New Yorkers have access to the state’s invaluable landscape and for future generations to experience and enjoy,” she said. According to Patron, there is “definitely more work to be done on Lookout Hill.” In the meantime, he reports that the Prospect Park Alliance is moving ahead with other projects throughout the park including the construction of two new ice skating rinks to replace the rapidly aging Kate Wollman Rink located off of Parkside and Ocean avenues. The group is reportedly nearing its funding goal for the project and will announce an architect in February.

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