Over the years hundreds of groups of citizens and organizations have held demonstrations, rallies and protests on the grounds of the New York State Capitol. Now, Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports a few eyebrows have raised after media reports concerning the cost of clean-up after one particular event.
60-thousand dollars - that's the latest figure out of how much it will cost taxpayers to fix the damage to the grounds of West Capitol Park in Albany. Officials say the huge gun-rights rally in late February resulted in sever damage to the landscape when thousands of people showed up in inclement weather to protest Governor Cuomo’s New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, or SAFE Act.
Republican New York State Senator Kathy Marchione has been an outspoken advocate for 2nd amendment rights, and introduced a bill to repeal the gun measure. She was at the rally.
Office of General Services workers have begun the process of restoring the grounds. OGS spokesperson Heather Groll declined to be interviewed by phone, choosing to respond to a request for comment by e-mail.
To quote: " The damage was caused when the large number of people stood and walked on wet ground for an extended period of time. Damages are estimated at 60K which includes 30K in materials and 30K in labor. Work has started and we expect (weather permitting) that the prep work will be done by the last week in April. We will then lay the sod which will take about a week."
Cost of an outdoor people's initiative has made headlines before: Occupy Albany's foray out of its Academy Park digs over into adjoining state-controlled Lafayette park in a curfew-breaking protest that spanned evenings Nov. 15 and Nov. 28, 2011, resulted in State Police chalking up an overtime tab of $91,000.
By contrast, WNYT TV reported estimated clean-up costs at Academy Park in the wake of the Occupy movement spending several weeks there, to be less than 10-thousand dollars. When contacted, officials at the office of Mayor Jerry Jennings were unable to come up with a final figure.
What remains unclear is whether any protocol changes for future rallies will be adopted.