State parks officials announced last Friday that thanks to a public-private partnership, park users can log onto the free Wi-Fi network “Oh, Ranger!”
The free Wi-Fi expansion also arrived in Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx, Bear Mountain State Park in the Hudson Valley and at Niagara Falls.
“Free Wi-Fi allows everyone to stay in parks longer, take and share pictures and use their emails,” said Leslie Wright, NYC regional director of New York State Parks. “It’s a convenience we all expect, certainly in New York City.”
According to Wright, public Wi-Fi is the latest amenity coming to Gantry State Plaza Park, along with renovated basketball courts, a refurbished tot lot, the impending opening of the Hunters Point community library, and NYC Ferry.
At Roberto Clemente State Park, the oldest state-owned park in New York City, Wi-Fi is part of a $70 million transformation of the green space.
State parks that already have free Internet include East River State Park in Williamsburg and Jones Beach and Robert Moses State Park on Long Island.
“We’re adding another layer of connectivity,” Wright said.
The state parks department is partnering with the American Park Network, an organization that provides brochures and trip planning information to parks across the country. Their sponsor for free public Wi-Fi is Toyota.
Mark Saferstein, publisher and editor-in-chief of the American Park Network, said this announcement is special because he grew up in the Bronx, and his father was a gym teacher in Long Island City.
“I grew up with this being a pivotal spot for me,” he said.
Saferstein said having a sponsor for Wi-Fi is important because features like this usually “take a backseat” in budgets to more important infrastructure. But it’s still an important feature for park users, especially in the digital age.
“It’s something that everybody wants,” he said. “It’s rare that anyone goes anywhere without their smartphones these days.”