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Bear Mountain State Park partially reopens for first time since devastating July storm

Bear Mountain State Park partially reopens after weeks of storm repairs
Bear Mountain State Park partially reopens after weeks of storm repairs 01:58

BEAR MOUNTAIN, N.Y. -- Bear Mountain State Park partially reopened Saturday after weeks of cleanup and repairs from a devastating July storm. 

Early risers had coolers and grills in tow as they arrived at the newly-reopened Hudson Valley destination. Many were delighted to spend an idyllic weekend away from the hustle and bustle of New York City

"We are planning on doing a cookout -- breakfast, lunch and dinner. So we made sure to bring a lot. We got two grills, we got a bunch of drinks," said Kimberly Ulario from Bensonhurst. 

Picnicking at Bear Mountain State Park is a tradition for many families, who were relieved to find the park open after the devastating storm washed away roads, ruined hiking trails and swamped the swimming pool on July 9.

Torrential rain inundated the area and damaged the park's water treatment plant, which took eight weeks to repair.

"Be able to see the whole community gather again. It'd be nice to see everybody enjoy their time here," said Carolina Sosa from Yonkers. 

"Every summer we were here at the lake or either barbecuing down there," said Berenice Sosa.

"I've been coming here since I was a child with my parents. My parents passed away, and now I bring my children to continue on," said Moe Moughawech, from the Bronx. 

The park partially opened for picnicking last week. On Saturday, visitors can also enjoy the Trailside Museums and Zoo, Bear Mountain Inn and Perkins Memorial Drive again. 

Park manager Jen Sylvestri said storm damage robbed families of a lot of summer fun. 

"Very unprecedented summer for us here at Bear Mountain. On so many levels, very disappointing. We weren't able to offer the patrons all the amenities that we're here to offer them," said Sylvestri. 

While facilities like bathrooms and drinking fountains are back in service, many of the park's trails remain closed until repairs are completed over the coming months.

"It said everything was open, so I was like, OK, cool, so I came up here to go hiking and first thing we see is 'all trails closed.' That was the bummer part," Nassau County resident Roger Knight said.

Among those disappointed was Inga Sepyashvilly, who drove up early in search for space to accommodate her extended family of 60 but found road closures at every turn.

"I was like, 'Please be open, please be open.' And, unfortunately, it's not," said Sepyashvily, from Hicksville. 

Officials say because of all the repair work underway, parking will be limited this weekend. Visitors should look ahead and make alternative plans in case the park reaches capacity.

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