Bello reveals $7.2 million plan to renovate, upgrade Monroe County parks

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you’ve ever stepped foot in one of the 22 Monroe County parks, you might notice that the infrastructure could use a bit of work.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced the Go Outside Monroe – Parks Revitalization Initiative Friday. The initiative was developed after a thorough review of all the parks, and officials realized that action is needed.

The project would be an overdue facelift for nearly all county parks after what Bello describes as years of neglect.

“The insulation is so poor, and the windows are in such desperate repair that we can’t rent this lodge out year-round, it’s limited,” Bello said. “Some of our bathrooms aren’t ADA compliant and haven’t been renovated since before this year’s graduating high school seniors were even born. Thirty-two out of the 40 park lodges haven’t been updated since the first Woodstock festival."

While Mother Nature blessed Monroe County with the great outdoors, county officials say the parks and open spaces are grossly behind in maintenance and upkeep.

“If we don’t maintain them, we will lose them,” Patrick Meredith, park director for Monroe County, said.

The year of the COVID-19 pandemic not only encouraged residents to embrace safe, outdoor activities but also shined a light on the fact that the parks and accompanying components are in poor, outdated shape.

The proposed initiative would invest $7.2 million in renovations and upgrades to infrastructure, facilities, amenities, and roadways to 17 county parks.

“The cost of building new is extremely expensive now, so maintaining what we have is more important than ever, especially when the demand for them has increased especially over the past year,” Meredith said.

Park stakeholders and John Baynes, a Monroe County legislator in the 18th District, are behind the initiative, citing the importance of parks and open spaces for community usage for generations to come.

“I will be your top cheerleader when this law comes before the county legislature," Baynes said. "Let’s get it passed, let’s get to work. We don’t need more ribbon cuttings. We need to get down to basics and deal with infrastructure and things that are not glamorous, but in the end, will deliver for our community."

The Parks Revitalization Initiative will be submitted to the legislature on July 13 but will not be considered until the August meeting.

Should the initiative pass, the $7.2 million investment will go into the parks over the year.