Page 10 - Work Force July-August 2020
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State parks provide morale spark amid At least one part of of of our our state didn’t pause as as New York battled the the the worst of of of COVID-19
In the the the midst of of the the the pandemic our public parks were an an an an oasis for those seeking an an an an escape from quarantine New Yorkers showed that public parks are essential to the the quality of of life in in in in in our state coming out in in in in in droves in in in in in search of of the the open spaces hiking trails and beaches for which our parks parks are known “Our parks parks have been open since all all of this started and they’ve never really closed ” said Palisades Parks Local President Phil Fayol “We’ve been full every day People have wanted more than ever ever to go out and be be in in nature ” Bear Mountain State Park is one of many in in in the Hudson Valley region that has quickly filled to capacity on on on on days with with good weather Even with with some of the the park’s main attractions temporarily closed including a a a a a a a a small zoo and merry-go-round visitors were picnicking in in in in in huge numbers In June workers started ramping up preparation at at at campsites in in the adjacent Harriman State Park and welcomed swimmers at at at at at Lake Welch Beach While an an opening date for the pool at at at Bear Mountain was not available as as this edition went to press Fayol said he expects high demand for Lake Welch Long Island Inter-County State Park Local President John Martinez said that because
state parks have remained open throughout the pandemic our members continued to provide vital services “It is is significant that our work is is giving the public a a a a a a a a a a a place to go go ” Martinez said “Even i if it is something as as simple as as going for a a a a a a a a a a a a a walk or or a a a a a a a a a a a a a jog they have an an option You can see that it’s appreciated ” Key role in in COVID testing
At Jones Beach State Park on on on on Long Island CSEA members are balancing providing recreational services with supporting a a a a a a COVID-19
site site Our members helped set up up the the site site including building a a a a a a a separate private road for the the the testing
“We set up the traffic barrels barricades sandbags guardrails basically anything that needs to be be set up ” said Long Island Inter- County State Park Local member Michael Conklin a a a a a a a a parks worker 3 “Everyone has really come together you get get to to see the the best sides of who people are during
a a a a crisis It was really hectic in in in in the beginning There were 500
to to 1 1 1 000 tests here here per per day day We were were working 12-16 hours per per day day day Now we’re down to to to 8-hour shifts with 200 COVID tests a a a day day tops ” In-house labor improves safety
To comply with with the state’s new new safety
protocols Parks workers have been busy with with many new new safety
features including building Plexiglas shields at at at information centers removing higher-risk sports equipment to encourage social distancing placing new sanitizing stations throughout the parks and renovating facilities to minimize human contact CSEA members used their own skills and talent to complete complete these new tasks completely in-house saving the the state money At Letchworth State Park in in in in Livingston County CSEA members spent the spring on on such safety
measures and and structural equipment to gear up for the warmer months and and and bigger crowds We wanted to to make sure everyone stays safe and and has a a a a a a a a a a a wonderful experience here at the park ” CSEA Genesee Parks Local President Brian Arnold an an an an electrician said our members worked very hard at making restroom facilities hands- free to make them safer as as well as as more routine repairs maintenance and planting “I couldn’t be be prouder of the the way our our members have stepped up to to the the challenge at at all all our our work locations ” said Arnold “We had to to adapt and approach our jobs differently because
of the health care crisis but I must say we we managed it very well Our parks are are are sparkling clean and in in in great shape Visitors are are being treated to to some of the the best recreational services anywhere in in the the the country ” CSEA members are also well up to the the task at at at Verona Beach State Park “For what we do it’s everything (to the parks) ” said Sean Barker who works in in in in Capital Facilities “These buildings would be falling down over the last 30 years without our crew ” Barker is concerned that in in in the the future there might be be a a a a a a a a a a lack of of interest in in in work like he he he does because
of of generational changes and low pay “There’s no no one here here here to replace us us We’ve been here here here for 28 years knocking it out of of the the park and carrying the the the load of of what’s got to get done ” Barker said “We’re a a a a a a a a a a a a a dying art and and there’s no computer or machine that can come in in in in in and and do do any of this stuff whether it’s hanging a a a a a a a a a a a a steel door or or rehabbing an an an an an old garage into a a a a a a a a sign shop ” At Palisades workers have been maintaining the vehicle fleet and and catching up on on refurbishments on on buildings Fayol a a a a a a a a a a painter and and his co-workers have completed work work at the the Bear Mountain Bookstore and Beaver Pond Campground among other other tasks Another safety
measure that has been more challenging is limiting attendance at at at the the the parks Fayol said the the extraordinarily high turnout before what’s traditionally considered peak attendance season has required workers to be be extra vigilant about safety
Traffic control and encouraging social distancing amongst park patrons has fallen largely to to our our members some of whom are newer to to the job “The parks have been packed like a a a a a a a a busy July weekend for the past three months ” Martinez said “It’s really taking a a a a a a a a a toll on on on workers physically and emotionally ” Yet workers are adapting “The overall message here is that our our CSEA park employees adapt to to to whatever comes our our way ” said Arnold Our visitors have been great too Almost
Long Island Inter-County State Park Local President John Martinez maintains a a a a a a a a fence 10 The Work Force
“This spring was extraordinarily busy for park employees at at Letchworth ” said Parks and Recreation Aide Marshall Bennett “We have a a a a a a a a a very skilled workforce and we we are are well prepared With all the new health requirements and safety
protocols we retrofitted and updated plumbing electrical
Bennett Conklin July-August 2020

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