Sunday, April 15, 2007

OPRHP pledges to restore Saratoga Spa State Park

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic PreservationEmpire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12238
April 11, 2007
FOR RELEASE:IMMEDIATEPress Contact:Eileen Larrabee (OPRHP)518-486-1868John McArdle, Matthew Walter (Senator Bruno) 518-455-2264
Bruno and Ash Announce Renewed Commitment to Saratoga Spa State ParkEffort Seeks to Ensure That Park Is Restored to Its Original Splendor
Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno and Acting Commissioner of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) Carol Ash today announced a joint commitment to Saratoga Spa State Park and an effort to ensure that the historic locale remains a unique and spectacular destination for New Yorkers and travelers from around the world.
"Saratoga Springs derives its name and identity from the mineral springs and baths that have played such a critical role in the history, economy and culture of this region," said Senator Bruno. "We are here today to renew our commitment to that rich tradition by working to restore the baths to their former prominence and reinvigorate all the assets of Saratoga Spa State Park as a destination for tourists from around the world."
"Historic Saratoga Spa State Park is a unique and spectacular treasure among our world-renowned park system," said Ash. "This is a wonderful and important facility and I look forward to working with Senator Bruno, in ensuring that it continues to be a cultural and recreational mainstay in the community and top-notch destination for travelers."
The two-part initiative announced today seeks to address issues that have been raised regarding the mineral baths at the park, while also establishing a longer-term capital and infrastructure needs assessment at the facility and throughout the entire regional park system.
As part of the effort, Ash announced that late last month the local engineering firm, Malcolm Pirnie was commissioned by OPRHP to conduct a comprehensive review of the mineral bath operations in Saratoga Spa State Park.
The study, which is expected to take up to three months, will include: an analysis of the current bath system at the Roosevelt Baths and the mineral waters content used at the facility, as well as a feasibility study for any corrective actions that the consultant may recommend. Among those corrective actions to be considered by the firm is the direct heating of the mineral bath water.
Along with the mineral bath review, Bruno and Ash noted that a Request for Proposals (RFP) has been issued for the operation of the Gideon Putnam Hotel and the Roosevelt Bath House. The 20-year RFP requires a minimum of $10 million for improvements to the properties. Since the RFP was issued late last year, nearly 20 firms with both national and international portfolios of significant lodging and hospitality properties have expressed interest in the project. RFP bids are due April 30 and an extensive evaluation process will commence immediately. The new contract will begin January 1, 2008.
"By placing special emphasis on the need to promote the many and varied assets of Saratoga Spa State Park, the RFP process will identify a new operator of the Gideon Putnam Hotel and Roosevelt Bath House who will market and promote the Park as another jewel in the crown of Saratoga Springs, along with the historic race track, vibrant downtown and other local attractions," added Senator Bruno.
"The baths made Saratoga a world renowned destination. By investing in them, and the park and its environs, we can only enrich Saratoga's reputation as the place to be, not only in the summer but throughout the year."
In addition, a long-term capital assessment will be conducted at Saratoga Spa State Park, along with other state parks in the region and throughout the state. Among those projects identified on a preliminary list for Saratoga State Park are the rehabilitation of the Hall of Springs and the restoration of the Route 50 bike path and the well-known Avenue of the Pines. Bruno and Ash acknowledged that a multi-year approach would be necessary to address these and other capital projects identified by OPRHP.
According to Ash, while New York State Parks and Historic Sites are widely recognized as among the best in the nation, the system is facing significant challenges.
"A number of our state parks require attention. Issues such as outdated water supply systems, wastewater treatment plants, electrical systems and aging dams need to be addressed," she said.
"In addition, much of our park buildings and infrastructure - our visitor centers, recreational facilities, cabins, campgrounds, swimming pools, nature centers and historic buildings - are aging and deteriorating, diminishing the outdoor experience for the nearly 60 million people who come to our parks every year," said Ash.
Saratoga Spa State Park, distinguished by its classical architecture and listed as a National Historic Landmark, is noted for its diverse cultural, aesthetic and recreational resources.
In addition to the nationally-known Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), the Spa Little Theater, the National Museum of Dance, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, the Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa and the famous mineral baths, the park offers a multitude of traditional recreation opportunities.
The park boasts two pool facilities. The Peerless Pool Complex consists of a main pool with a zero-depth entry, separate slide pool with a 19' double slide and a children's wading pool with a mushroom fountain. The Victoria Pool is a smaller pool surrounded by arched promenades. Both pool areas include showers, locker rooms and restrooms.
The park also has two public golf courses; a championship 18-hole course and a challenging 9-hole course, complete with pro shop and restaurant. The park terrain offers picnic areas, shady streamside trails, suitable for the nature-lover or the casual walker, as well as certified running courses used by joggers and high school and college athletes.
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© 2007 New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. All rights reser