Friday, September 21, 2007

Roosevelt Baths promised to be bubbly again!

Hot baths lose tap
By JIM KINNEY , The Saratogian
Mineral waters will no longer be diluted SARATOGA SPRINGS - Visitors to the Roosevelt Baths in Saratoga Spa State Park will be able to soak their cares away in piping hot - and undiluted - mineral water by the time tourist season rolls around next year, according to an agreement announced Thursday by the state.Delaware North Companies - the firm that won the right this summer to operate the Gideon Putnam Hotel and Conference Center for 20 years starting in January - has agreed to spend $450,000 on improvements to the New Deal-era bathhouse. That work will include four new water heaters to heat the park's famous mineral water to bath temperatures."That's wonderful news," city Public Works Commissioner Thomas McTygue said. "I know it's something Senator Bruno has been working on."The bathhouse has been using hot city water to warm and dilute the mineral water for about 20 years. The minerals in the spring water at the park fouled water heaters.In March, Fred Dicker of the New York Post wrote about city water being used at the baths, prompting storms of protest. One of the people who voiced displeasure was state Sen. Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick. He represents Saratoga Springs.After he got involved, the state hired the engineering firm of Malcolm Pirnie to find out if it is even feasible to heat the mineral water consistently. That study resulted in Thursday's agreement, according to a news release.The mineral waters with their health benefits are the whole reason the Spa State Park exists."It makes a difference. I've been talking to some of the old- timers," McTygue said. "It makes a difference in the bubbles and how you float in the bath."Also, it's a simple question of fairness, he said. The current operators of the Roosevelt, Xanterra Resorts, charges $25 for a 40-minute mineral bath. Full spa treatments can run as high as $315."Then to have it mostly be municipal tap water," McTygue said. "I don't think so."Eileen Larrabee, spokeswoman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said the $450,000 in improvements announced Thursday will also include new furniture, window treatments, decorations and a revamped lobby. There will be coffee, tea and lunch service as well as a relaxation/solitude room with a water feature.All told, Delaware North has committed to more than $10 million in improvements throughout the park over 20 years and also $2 million in improvements to the Gideon Putnam specifically.Those numbers are minimums, though, Larrabee said. The state is still working out its agreement with Delaware North. "We should have that agreement in about six weeks," she said. The company already runs Saratoga Gaming and Raceway as well as park and resort properties around the country.
The state will also start work on a full-scale master plan for the park - including golf courses, trails bathhouses etc. - by the end of this year."It's basically a complete assessment," Larrabee said.The master plan would also include public input sessions. It wouldn't be completed until 2008 or 2009. Reach Jim Kinney at or call 583-8729 ext.216
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