Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Ave. of Pines and all Spa Park roads continue to deteriorate, Saratogian, 5/22/07
A bumpy ride
By JIM KINNEY , The Saratogian
A vehicle tires to avoid one of several large potholes in the Avenue of The Pines. RICK GARGIULO/The Saratogian
SARATOGA SPRINGS - State agencies plan to repave the Avenue of The Pines in June, but it's merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the work needed at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs and Moreau Lake State Park near South Glens Falls.At Spa State Park's Avenue of The Pines, potholes mar the pavement in several areas. Pavement also is crumbling on the shoulders of the scenic drive linking Route 9 with the Gideon Putnam Hotel and Conference Center, the Saratoga Automobile Museum and the park's pools and golf courses among other attractions. People have been calling to ask when the repairs will be done. "It bothers us, too," said Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.She said work will begin in early June and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is buying the materials for $40,000. The state Department of Transportation will be doing the paving, which was last done in 1999.Spa State Park gets about 947,000 visitors each year.This past fall, a private organization called Parks and Trails New York reported there are $300 million in overdue capital projects in New York's state parks, spokeswoman Larrabee said Monday."To give you some perspective, this year, our maintenance budget went up from $25 million to $30 million," she said. "That's why it's clear we need another source of funding."The "Bigger Better Bottle Bill" being pushed by the Spitzer administration would mandate 5-cent deposits on noncarbonated drinks such as juice and water. Unclaimed deposits would then go to the state's Environmental Protection Fund. Larrabee said parks like Saratoga Spa and Moreau Lake would get a part of that money.State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, opposes the Bottle Bill on the grounds that it will drive up the price of those drinks by as much as 15 cents a bottle."We are opposed to another tax," Bruno spokesman Kris Thompson said Monday.Bruno, who represents parts of Saratoga County, and state parks officials are working together on a "master plan" of projects and improvements for Spa State Park. Thompson said that plan will be ready by mid- to late summer - about three months after Bruno announced the master plan during a visit to the Roosevelt baths.The contract for the franchise to run the baths and the Gideon hotel expires this year, and the new franchise holder will be required to spend $10 million on capital improvements at the park with the state's direction. That would include not only the baths, but other facilities as well, Thompson said. Three companies are vying for the new contract."We're moving forward, and things are falling into line," Thompson said. "The next thing is to get it implemented. A group of people filling water bottles at the park's spring pavilion Monday said the park looks good overall. But they did have some suggestions."Stop dumping gravel on the cross-country trails," said John Noonan of Malta. "I understand they are doing it to control erosion, but it defeats the point of running in the woods. It's too much like paving."Linda McAllister of Saratoga Springs said she'd like to see state parks have informative signs warning of the dangers posed by deer ticks and Lyme disease. She's a Lyme disease sufferer who believes people don't take the threat seriously.Larrabee said state officials have already identified masonry and trail repairs they'd like to make at Spa State Park.At Moreau, the county's other large state park, the state has identified the following projects:ä $800,000 in repairs to the showers, comfort station and bathhouse, which has already been partially funded.ä $1 million for paving and road work that remains unfunded.ä $250,000 for the underground electrical system serving the camp sites. This is also unfunded.