JAMES M. ODATO Capitol bureau
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: B4

Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Accompanied by a handful of Arbor Hill residents, a pack of reporters and a flock of elected leaders, Gov. George Pataki on Monday strode through an 80-acre urban park that he said might soon grow.

After the snowy stroll, Pataki declared his commitment to improve such inner-city open spaces statewide just as he has added to the Catskills and Adirondacks. He announced the creation of ``a working group'' to look into ways to protect and expand Tivoli Lakes Wildlife Park, a preserve behind the Philip Livingston Magnet Academy.

The group will include representatives of the state Office of Parks and Recreation and Department of Environmental Conservation, whose commissioners accompanied Pataki on a tour of the wooded region sandwiched between Interstate 90 and city neighborhoods.

The group will also include representatives of the city, the county and the Arbor Hill Environmental Justice Corp., whose leader, Aaron Mair, led the governor on the short loop with Mayor Jerry Jennings and County Executive Michael Breslin.

The preserve, used for environmental education, was acquired by the city from the Van Rensselaer family in 1850 for a public waterworks. The southern end of the park later became a field for the Negro Baseball League.

``As we protect the unparalleled beauty of the Adirondack and Catskills, we must continue to provide our children with the opportunity to appreciate nature right in their own communities,'' the governor said. ``The Tivoli Preserve ... provides us a good opportunity to expand public access through a greenway linking the historic Hudson River to the urban gems in the city.''