Greenpoint Gazette
Oh, Ranger! East River State Park WiFi

East River State Park Plugs-In

BY Tanay Warerkar

With tech startups and industry titans alike making Williamsburg their home in recent years, the neighborhood’s public spaces aren’t ones to be outdone either.

East River State Park, on a stretch along Kent Avenue between North 7th and North 8th Streets, took another step forward last week, and is now fully equipped with free Wi-Fi.

The service was made available in parts of the Park last year where it was being developed as a test project until the official launch this summer.

The free Wi-Fi rollout is part of a collaboration between the State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, Toyota, and the American Park Network, the leading publisher for visitor guides to national parks.

“From Niagara Falls to Jones Beach, New York State has a tremendous array of world-class parks – and by launching Wi-Fi access at these flagship locations we’re making it easier than ever for visitors to take in everything they offer,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “By offering free Wi-Fi services at some of our most prominent outdoor locations we can continue to attract more people to the great outdoors – which boosts the tourism industry and grows regional economies across the state.”

Apart from East River State Park, similar services were installed at Niagara Falls, Saratoga Spa, and Jones Beach – together the four parks are visited by over 18 million people each year, and account for close to 30 percent of visits made to state parks throughout the year.

Toyota bore a large part of the financial costs of the project particularly to highlight the effectiveness of its environmentally friendly vehicle, the Prius Plug-In Hybrid, working in tandem as a push to get more people to visit parks.

“Supporting the needs of state parks and their guests is a perfect fit for the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid,” said Dionne Colvin-Lovely, the national director of traditional and digital media at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. “We welcome the opportunity to make a difference in local communities by helping to add value to some of the most treasured open spaces in all of New York State.”

To most, parks might seem like the place people visit to escape the grips of technology, but research conducted by the American Park Network and the State Parks Department found that the lack of Wi-Fi was in fact hindering people from visiting.

Oh, Ranger Wi-Fi, as it is entitled, is entirely free of cost to users, and at the same time will also allow the parties involved in the project to monitor park visitation patterns, create awareness about programs and events, and encourage volunteerism – all in order to improve the experience of park-goers.

“We feel great about providing a new service that will make our parks even more accessible to the next generation of custodians who will care for these special places,” said Mark Saferstein, editor-in-chief and publisher of American Park Network.

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