Westchester County, Westchester County Parks, Westchester County Department Of Parks discussed on WGN Programming
With you from the Abbey Inn and Spa in Peekskill, New York, If you don't know where that is, that's in Westchester County, New York, the famous 914 Erica. I know this area very well because When I was growing up in Manhattan, Yes, I'm born and bred New Yorker on and for me, my very first sleepover date. Was in Larchmont. I was eight years old. And it blew me away because other than the grass in Central Park I played football in the cement in New York, between the canopies on the buildings, So for me to see the grass and large I was like, Wow and my childhood friend Paul, who have still breaking friends with his dad had a 1958 Austin Healey. And put the top down and we wrote all over Westchester like we were the Kings of the road. But that's the point. There was grass here. There were parks here. There were trees here, so there's a perfect segment of my next guest. He's the director of conservation for the Westchester County Department of Parks. Jason Klein. Welcome to the trees. Thank you for having me. You like that introduction. That's a true story. That is great. I know. And you still have the trees? We, Diogo. I mean, at the television. We're living on the banks of the Hudson River right now. Overlooking the river. Great farmland. Great, great, great greenery, actually, but I mean, people forget in the United States. We always talk about the national parks were obsessed with the national parks. But it's the state local parts that make the difference. Absolutely. In Westchester County. Here we have over 15,000 acres of Parkland and over 50 parks that we're that we're responsible for. 50 50. Yes, Well, listen, Westchester's what? 450 square Miles. So so that Z. Not bad, right? And that's just the county parks. You can also include the municipal parks and the state parks that exist within less Chester. So Jason when people come up here, and this is for the locals as well, because right now one of the things that's happening during the pandemic. People are rediscovering their own neighborhoods. They're rediscovering their own parks, and they live here. Absolutely very often in our parks. We hear people saying that they've lived here their whole lives, and it's the first time entering the park and what's the biggest surprise to them so that they have a park other than they have a park? One of the biggest surprise is just how much park land exists within Westchester County, and we have a wide range of what we offer with Westchester County Parks. Anything from play land and amusement park golf courses, pathways. So the North and South County Trail goes the entire length of Westchester north to south and also all of our passive parks. How long would it take you to do the trail way? Depends depends whether you're with your biking. I certainly know people that could do it pretty quickly. It would take me a little while. I believe will take me a little while longer. I think up, But what about rails to trails? Do you have those here too? So the north and South County Trail Way was originally was the trial. It was the tracks. It was the it's called the old Pot Field. Putnam Railway that went from New York City up into Putnam. Remember like area Lackawanna? All those trains and they are now converted. Absolutely wow. So in a given day You could spend three weeks here not see it all. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean in our largest park Ward Pound Ridge Reservations, 4315 acres and you counted every one of them. I used to work there, so I've been over much of that property. But what's the biggest surprise of each individual park that other parks don't have? For example? I think it's just the diversity of habitat and diversity of experience. That someone can enjoy in the Westchester County parks. Plus in a world where social distancing is required. That's big. That's begged in. Oh, absolutely. It's we've we've had record visitation. Since April, because people really have that knack to get outside right now. Now there was some parks, United States. I'm sure you understand this that are so popular. You gotta get a pass. You got to get a time code before they let you and have you gotten to that point yet? We haven't gotten to that point where we keep it open to the public. There are times when we do have to close the park down. When it reaches capacity, especially some of our smaller parks and in terms of the animals in the park. What surprises will I find their? Ah, lots of surprises. So I mean, lots of birds that people will see That's that's the most common thing as you're walking around, But there's a great variety of wildlife in all of our facilities. Anything from dear we have bear around in the in the county of Bear. Absolutely Bobcat, Although usually you don't see those They're very They're more seclusion there on their own car. They're on their condos, absolutely double checking, and you've even got a golf course. We have six golf courses at the county operates. On and located in different areas throughout the county. So the bottom line is even if you don't live here and you're visiting, you have access to it. Absolutely absolutely. It's available to any area resident. Is there one thing that's changed dramatically during the pandemic for you. I think it's the ability to offer programming where we used to have weekend programs and you know the summer camps would run full. That's changed a little bit. We've been trying to do it as best we can, and certainly following all New York State guidelines while we do to keep it safe and tell me about Reed Sanctuary, so read sanctuaries is one of the places I first worked in the county and one of my favorites. It's right along Long Island Sound in Rye, New York, behind play land. So basically, it's a little secret Beach. It is a little well but a passive beach so not for sunbathers or swimmers, but certainly enjoying a stroll along the beach. That's a great place to go. Jason Klein, the director of conservation for the Westchester County.