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Plattsburgh residents Joshua Cook and Kym Pryce head out with their son, Preston, after a day of fishing at Point au Roche State Park. The park, which they have been visiting for a few years, is their favorite location for a day out. They and many others plan to continue to go there even though it hasn't officially opened this year.

Barricades block the beach entrance at Point Au Roche State Park.

A park police officer stands nearby.

But many people are using the park anyway.

A bill was proposed to the State Legislature Monday by Gov. David Paterson to re-open the 41 parks and 14 historical sites he had ordered closed this year.

People who love Point au Roche Park say they will continue to visit the site, regardless of whether it is officially closed or not.

"This place is spectacular," said Brenda Towne of Plattsburgh.

'THE ONLY PLACE'

Towne is one of many people who took part in local demonstrations against the proposed closing of parks and historical sites across the state, including John Brown Farm in Lake Placid and Macomb State Park in Schuyler Falls.

She said her family comes to Point Au Roche often and will continue to do so.

"We were trying to think, where are we going to go?"

But there really is no local substitute for the park, she said.

Joshua Cook and Kym Pryce of Plattsburgh said they have been coming to the park for a couple of years now. Taking their son, Preston Cook, there for his first visit, the couple said they hope to be able to bring him in the future.

"This is the only place we go to," Cook said.

WARNINGS

Visitors who drive beyond the barricade toward the beach area or who swim on the beach have been advised to leave, according to Randie Johnson, park supervisor for Cumberland Head and Point au Roche parks.

But he said they have been told to issue verbal warnings rather than tickets.

UNAWARE OF CLOSURE

Not only is it a short drive for people from most areas of the North Country, but Point au Roche State Park is also a favorite destination for Canadians.

Yves Neron of Montreal visited the park for some kite surfing this past weekend, unaware that it was officially closed.

If the beach became completely off limits, Neron said, many Canadians would find other places to spend their time. This might divert money that was once spent by vacationers in Plattsburgh to other regions.

"It's going to really affect tourism for sure," he said.

Neron said he would most likely visit White's Beach in Vermont for future trips if Point au Roche truly became off-limits.

Bob Williams of Montreal was also unaware that the beach was closed, saying he has been visiting Lake Champlain for 45 years.

Williams agreed tourism would be impacted should the parks stay closed.

"I think Canadians would look to go somewhere else."

Quebecers love to camp, he said, and this area is one of the best places close to the border to do so.

SAFE AND ENJOYABLE

Seth Bombeck of Plattsburgh has a spinal-cord injury that requires him to use a wheelchair to get around. He says Point au Roche is the best place in the area to walk his dog and experience the beauty of the great outdoors. Trips to mountainous areas like the Adirondacks would simply not be possible for him.

"It's a safe, enjoyable environment and lets you get close to nature."

Bombeck said he will continue to visit the park, regardless of whether it is officially open.

Brenda Towne's daughter, Lisa Towne, said she has been coming to Point au Roche most of her life. Although she has since moved away from Plattsburgh, she visits the park when she is in the area and has no plans to stop.

"I'm hoping we can still come here jogging and not get a ticket."

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