Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve to Honor NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

New York State Senate President Pro Tem & Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve will honor New York State Senate President Pro Tem & Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins at their 2024 Gala on Saturday, June 29, 2024, at the Rockefeller Estate in Pocantico Hills. She will receive the prestigious John D. Rockefeller Jr. Park Preservation Award for her unwavering support of New York State Parks and commitment to environmental stewardship.

“Andrea Stewart-Cousins has championed not only the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, but all parks in New York State since she was elected to the New York State Senate in 2007,” said George Gumina, Founder and President of the Friends, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and maintaining the Preserve’s land and historical features. “Her tenure as the longest serving Democratic Majority Leader in New York State Senate history, and the first woman and African American woman in this role, make her an unstoppable force committed to addressing the needs of all New Yorkers.”

Resources raised by the gala will continue the next steps of a major project at the Preserve’s Rockwood Hall section. This unique 88-acre section of the park directly overlooking the Hudson River has become increasingly popular with visitors. The improvement project will provide a formal entrance with a courtyard, an informational kiosk, restroom facilities and much needed improved and expanded parking.

The event will be held in the majestic Playhouse, the two-story, Tudor-style mansion that John D. Rockefeller Jr. built in 1927 as a place for his family to gather, host events and enjoy.

“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from the Friends of the Rockefeller State Preserve for our collective efforts in environmental stewardship and unwavering support of New York’s cherished parks,” said Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins.As we celebrate the centennial of the New York State Parks system, it is a poignant reminder of the legacy we are entrusted to uphold and the future we must safeguard. As Senate Majority I have championed critical legislation, enhancing transparency in parkland use and introducing innovative programs like the state parks passport and resident curator programs. These initiatives aim to enrich our connection to nature and deepen our commitment to education and inclusivity. Furthermore, we have enacted historic legislation, including the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and made significant investments to combat climate change, ensuring countless more generations of New Yorkers can enjoy places like the Rockefeller Preserve. This accolade belongs to all New Yorkers who value our natural heritage and strive for a greener, more sustainable future. Together, we continue to fortify our dedication to preserving our state’s natural beauty and environmental integrity.”

Under the leadership and guidance of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in the last year alone the Senate passed specific parks-related bills, including:

  • $1 billion for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation — included $300 million in Capital for enhancing and improving parks statewide.
  • An investment of $400 million to support climate priorities across New York State
  • Ensuring transparency in the use of parkland by requiring reports on any changes or “alienations” of municipal parklands are made public.
  • Establishing the State Parks Passport program to encourage residents and visitors to explore the wonders of the state parks.
  • Creating the resident curator program to promotes the restoration and preservation of state park buildings.
  • Creating a task force focused on outdoor environmental education and recreation, which is a step towards enhancing educational programs within our state parks.
  • Offering free access to state parks for members or citizens of state or federally recognized Native American nations, acknowledging and honoring the cultural and historical significance of these lands.

As Majority Leader, Senator Stewart-Cousins has played a critical role in the state’s Climate Change plan by establishing The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. In line with her commitment to and legislation on Environmental Justice, the CLCPA ensures that disadvantaged communities receive at least 35% of all benefits. With her strong support, the Environmental Protection Fund has provided over $10 million for Environmental justice projects.

The Friends award reflects the extraordinary contributions that John D. Rockefeller Jr. made in the form of financing, maintaining, and protecting the land that now comprises the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, a national treasure enjoyed by more than 400,000 visitors each year. With his father, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., John D. Jr. designed the Preserve’s unique 65-mile network of carriage roads. These 16-foot-wide crushed stone pathways give the Preserve its elegant look and overall appeal. The well-engineered loops traverse open fields, dense forests, and wetlands, offering stunning vistas of the Hudson River and surrounding landscape. Through the Friends tireless efforts, the New York State Historic Review voted unanimously to include the Preserve and its carriage road system in the State Register of Historic Places in 2018.

Since 1983, more than 1,700 acres have been deeded over to New York State as gifts from the Rockefeller family. The Preserve is open year-round for strolling, hiking, jogging, horseback-riding, fishing (in season) and wildlife-watching and photography.

To purchase tickets, tables and sponsorship packages for the Friends 2024 Gala, please visit or call Jessika Creedon at 914-762-0209.

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