Cultural dollars restored

In what is seen as a victory over deep mid-year budget cuts, state funding for the Bronx Zoo, New York Botanical Garden, and Wave Hill has been restored for the remainder of fiscal year 2009.

However, ZGBA funding – the state’s zoos, botanical garden and aquariums grant program – may be completely eliminated for fiscal year 2010.

A 2009 mid-year cut was restored for 76 statewide living museums. Three of those institutions are located in the Bronx – the Bronx Zoo, N.Y. Botanical Garden, and Wave Hill.

All three institutios currently benefit under the state ZGBA funding program.

“We applaud the New York State Legislature for rejecting Governor Paterson’s proposal to disproportionately cut the zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums’ budget line by 55 percent for fiscal year 2009,” said Wildlife Conservation Society executive vice president of public affairs John Calvelli.

“This was a strategic decision by our state legislators who recognize the economic, educational and environmental importance of institutions funded by the ZBGA budget line.”

The fiscal year 2010 budget, due on April 1, is still being debated in Albany by the legislature.

The proposed cut would eliminate the entire ZGBA funding program, which has been in existence for three decades, leading many to say that the cuts would be catastrophic.

At the New York Botanical Garden, the ZGBA funding is directly responsible for 30 staff positions, which would have to be eliminated if state legislators cancel the program.

“The restoration of fiscal year 2009 mid-year cuts certainly has saved jobs and programs that serve our visitors,” said Carl Lauby, vice president for communications for the NYBG.

“We certainly want to thank that state legislature for restoring the appropriation,” Lauby continued

Lauby said that out of a total staff number of 418, ZGBY funding is responsible for approximately 30 positions that provide programming that is in ever increasing demand as people search for recreation closer to home. Lauby said that the cuts would hurt middle-income Bronxites.

“The cuts are proposed. That is what we are assuming is going to happen unless some force intervenes,” Lauby said.

“It is not as if we expect no cuts at all, but to zero out a program that has served living museums for 30 years is drastic, draconian, and catastrophic,” said Lauby.

“I think people are turning to local destinations more now than they might have.”

Bronx Zoo, NY Botanical Garden, Wave Hill

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