Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and joy in the New Year from your Save the Victoria Pool Society

Thank you all for your tremendous support always in loving the Victoria Pool, Saratoga Spa State Park&Saratoga Springs.

Board Members:

Louise, Andrew, Stanton, Carole, Maureen, Barbara, Roger, Doug, Paul, Peter, Virginia & Ed, Anita, Bob, Holly, Rick, Tom.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

2 views on SPAC decision to shorten NYCBallet season to 2 wks. in 2009

Home » Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Dance continues to be important at SPAC
Published: Friday, December 19, 2008

Larger Text
Smaller Text


Two recent letters to the editor have compared the recent decision to shorten the New York City Ballet's 2009 SPAC season to the effort by the previous administration in 2004 to eliminate the residency. I believe the comparison is misplaced for several reasons.

The 2004 effort to eliminate the residency would have effectively ended the 40-year partnership between SPAC and the New York City Ballet, one of our founding companies. In contrast, the current decision preserves the ballet's summer residency, and with it the opportunity for SPAC audiences to continue to experience the artistry of one of the world's premier dance companies. It is also important to note that the 2004 decision was made by SPAC's prior president and board without the support of the ballet. Yet the decision to shorten the ballet's 2009 SPAC season was presented by the New York City Ballet and then approved by SPAC's board.

Given the current economic uncertainties, both the ballet and SPAC felt a shorter and less costly season made sense at this time. One benefit of the shorter program will be the opportunity to expand the diversity of SPAC's dance programming. Recognizing this region's rich dance heritage and devoted following, we are committed to adding new dance programming in what would have been the third week of the ballet. Expanding the variety of SPAC's programming in both dance and music is a goal that we have steadily pursued in recent years, and that will continue to be a priority in 2009.


President and Executive Director

Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Letter: SPAC needs wake-up call if it is going to fill seats

Saturday, December 20, 2008 5:16 AM EST

My sister recently tried to buy a gift certificate to SPAC for me as a Christmas present, knowing the loss of half-price tickets for memberships and the elimination of other discounts such as entertainment book coupons by SPAC management had forced us to severely curtail our trips to the NYCB and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

What should have been a simple process became an exercise in frustration when the Web site directed her to a phone number that was left unanswered and messages unreturned, and finally a mailing directing her to buy a membership, something I refuse to do until SPAC takes a more realistic approach to their ticket prices.

Finally, in frustration, my sister called Proctors who answered the phone in one ring and were both helpful and gracious in her procurement for a gift certificate. I think SPAC needs a wake up call; their customer service is appalling, their prices are outrageous and I feel the loss of one week of the ballet is only the beginning. I wonder if all the rock show patrons will appreciate the muti-million dollar new paint job. If only that money was used to subsidize ticket prices, the seats might be filled again.

John Tighe


Saturday, December 13, 2008

The money to open the Victoria Pool Memorial Day once again has literally been going down the SEWER for years! Shameful.

Publication:Schenectady Daily Gazette; Date:Dec 13, 2008; Section:Local News; Page:12


Spa State Park gets a break on county sewer bill

BY STEPHEN WILLIAMS Gazette Reporter Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 885-6705 or

Officials at Saratoga Spa State Park have won a concession from Saratoga County that should save about $54,000 on the park’s sewer bill next year.

The county sewer district has agreed to revise its billing method for the park, using actual flow fi gures rather than billing based on peak use, which appears to have inflated the bill.

That means the park — facing the same budget struggles as all other state agencies — will see its sewer bill drop from $98,700 to an estimated $44,100 with the January bill.

“This level of solid expense cut could really help us,” said Alane Chinian, regional director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The sewer bill is the park’s single largest outside bill, she said.

Chinian had complained about the size of the bill at a rate hearing held last month by county sewer commissioners, had her request for a reduction denied, then appealed the rate set by the commissioners to the county Board of Supervisors.

That appeal led to negotiating the new billing method.

The billing was approved Wednesday by the county board’s Law and Finance Committee and should be routinely approved by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday in Ballston Spa as part of a package of sewer rates.

“This is an elegant solution,” Chinian said. “It charges us for what we put in, and that’s fair.”

The 2,500-acre park just south of the city includes the Gideon Putnam Hotel and Conference Center, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Hall of Springs, several mineral baths, a golf course and two museums. All those facilities are under the state park’s single sewer bill so its sewage flow varies greatly, depending on attendance at SPAC concerts and other activities.

Chinian said last month that there’s also snow-melt running into the sewer lines in the spring, but the park staff is trying to fi x the problem, which is common in aging sewers.

The sewer district will be losing revenue but it won’t mean a significant impact within the $8.9 million sewer rate levy, said James DiPasquale, the district’s executive director.

“It will not affect other users,” said William J. Davis, chairman of the county sewer commission.

Nearly all of the district’s 65,000 customers pay a flat fee annually, based on how much sewage a single-family house is expected to generate, or a multiple of that number for multi-unit buildings and businesses.

The park’s billing was different in that it paid based on a calculation of its annual maximum daily flow, even though an actual metered measurement was available. The meter reading will now be used to calculate the following year’s bill.

“This is the only user this really applies to in this big a manner,” said County Attorney Mark M. Rider

Friday, December 12, 2008

will this be this years excuse to open Victoria Pool late?

The region may have just seen its first appreciable winter storm, but that’s not going to stop me from writing about a decidedly summer distraction: pools.

A new federal law tailored to increase the safety of public pools and spas, called the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, goes into effect Dec. 19.

It calls for upgrades to suction and drainage equipment that officials say cayse one or two deaths every year in the United States. The new law –named after the the granddaughter of James Baker, a former U.S. Secretary of State, who died in 2002 when she was caught in the drain at a private spa — will require that all public and community pools install drain covers that can prevent the deaths.

Thousands of pools across the county could be forced to close, at least temporarily, for failing to comply.

But Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for the New York State Office of Parks & Recreation, said any issues at the Peerless Pool or the Victoria Pool in Saratoga Spa State Park should be addressed before their scheduled opening this summer.

“We’re aware of the law, we’re surveying the pools and taking steps to comply,” she said. “There are some modifications that may need to be made but they should not interrupt operations.”

– Drew Kerr

This entry was posted on Friday, December 12th, 2008 at 4:03 pm and is filed under Saratoga Snippets, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Danger looming for Saratoga Spa State Park

Thursday, December 11, 2008 5:16 AM EST
By PAUL POST, The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Shorter seasons, reduced hours, staff reductions and fee hikes are among the steps state parks officials are considering to deal with the growing fiscal crisis.

No Saratoga-Capital District Region facilities are targeted for closure, but a further economic decline could prompt such action.

A commission that oversees the region’s 10 state parks and 10 historical sites met Wednesday at Saratoga Spa State Park.

"We’re in such uncharted territory," Assistant Regional Director Robert Kuhn said. "Our desire is to not have to close any of our major facilities. If the economy takes a major step downward between now and April 1 that may have to be reconsidered."

The state’s fiscal year begins April 1 and Gov. David Paterson has asked all departments to make cuts in the face of a multi-billion dollar budget deficit. State parks gets most of its revenue from golf, camping and vehicle use fees, which might all be going up.

"Albany will ultimately decide it," Kuhn said. "Fees are set by the state."

If closures are contemplated, the public should be given plenty of advance notice, so that people have the opportunity keep facilities open with various fund-raising projects, panel member David Golub said.

"It’s going to be hard next year," Commission Chair Heather Mabee said. "It’s going to be very difficult. We’re going to have no extra money for anything. If we have a major repair, it’s going to be very hard to do."

She urged each commission member to initiate a small fund-raising or improvement project at one of the region’s facilities.

"This would help our entire region more than doing one big project," she said.

Panel member Thomas Maggs said that area college groups are always looking for service projects. RPI, Union and Russell Sage students have reportedly done such work.

Regional Director Alane Ball Chinian said that parks will do less lawn mowing in 2009 to save on fuel, labor and equipment maintenance costs. State officials are hoping that gas prices stay at or near current levels. This summer’s fuel costs, at more than $4 per gallon, put a huge strain on groundskeeping budgets.

"We’re looking under every rock," Chinian said. "If we can save $500 doing something a little different, we’ll do it. We’re looking at everything."

Golub said it’s unfair that state parks has to pay for cleanup duties after rock concerts at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Live Nation, which stages events, gets the revenue while the parks system has to pay workers overtime for cleanup. Live Nation’s contract expires at the end of 2009. Under the next pact, the concert promoter should be required to share in cleanup costs, he said.

"It’s not just cleanup, it’s security too," Mabee said.

The following are comments from the readers. In no way do they represent the view of

Andy George wrote on Dec 11, 2008 7:06 AM:

" Keep the park open and eliminate the park police. During the busy SPAC season they are absent when the park empties when they are needed the most for traffic control.They spend most of their days trying to trap local people in park speed traps. "

Report Abuse

Submit a Comment

print story
State parks forecast rate hike
Admission rise, shorter season possible as department plans future

By KENNETH C. CROWE II, Staff writer
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Thursday, December 11, 2008

SARATOGA SPRINGS — It could cost more next year to get into state parks, and they might be operating for shorter hours with smaller staffs, parks officials said Wednesday.
The state parks department's Saratoga-Capital District Region office has suggested budget cuts and fee increases for the state's 2009-10 budget, Regional Director Alane Ball Chinian said. The recommendations were sent to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in Albany.

Reduction in facilities' days and hours of operation as well as cuts in seasonal staffing are among the proposals, she said.

Cuts in hours may come in the spring and fall, sparing the peak summertime use, said Robert Kuhn, the assistant regional director.

He and Ball Chinian presented a broad outline at the quarterly meeting of the Saratoga-Capital District State Park Recreation and Historic Preservation Commission at the Saratoga Spa State Park. They said they are also looking for savings in utility costs and other operating expenses.

"We already in state parks have a budget with no cream, no fluff,'' said Heather Mabee, the chairwoman of the commission, which oversees the region's parks. "It's going to be hard next year.''

"We don't know where we are with next year's budget,'' Ball Chinian said about the decisions that will impact park operations throughout the Capital Region.

"The agency has asked us to take another look at our budget and trim even more,'' she said.

Spending cuts made this fall had an immediate effect on park operations.

Schodack Island State Park was closed in October until the spring, due to a 10 percent budget cut. Ball Chinian said the region hopes to reach an agreement with the Schodack Town Board to reopen the park this winter.Mabee said the region will have to count on each park's volunteer friends group and fundraising to offset some cuts.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from Save the Victoria Pool Society

[edit] "A Boy's Thanksgiving Day," by Lydia Maria Child
This Thanksgiving song originally appeared as a poem written by Lydia Maria Child in Flowers for Children, volume 2, in 1844. Lydia Maria Child was a novelist, journalist, teacher, and wrote extensively about the need to eliminate slavery.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood -
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, "Ting-a-ling-ding",
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood
Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood -
And straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood -
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Investing in NYS Parks a wise idea in tough times, Times Union

print story
Parks called a sound investment
Group urges Paterson to allocate $100M in budget for improvements

By CASEY SEILER, State editor
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ALBANY — A consortium of environmental groups is calling on Gov. David Paterson to include $100 million in capital funding for New York's state parks in his 2009-2010 budget.
Representatives from Parks & Trails New York, Scenic Hudson, the state chapter of the Audubon Society and others held a press conference Monday morning to make the case for a broad program of revitalization — most of it administered by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Setting aside the environmental arguments for the upgrades, the advocates focused on the economic benefits to be derived from investment in the parks system. Individual projects cited by the group ranged from the new "Walkway Over the Hudson" pedestrian bridge — slated to open next year outside of Poughkeepsie — to more pressing work on dams, landfills and water and sewage systems serving parks.

The state committed $75.5 million in bonded capital for park improvements in the 2008-2009 budget. Those funds and additional state monies went to 201 current projects, including everything from improvements at the Peerless Pool in Saratoga Spa State Park and the reconstruction of the boardwalk at Jones Beach.

Tim Sweeney of Parks & Trails said a similar commitment next year would be a "second installment" on more than $650 million in proposed upgrades to state parks identified in a study completed by Parks Commissioner Carol Ash, who was appointed by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Sweeney emphasized that many of these projects brought jobs to "areas of the state that have few other economic drivers."

Sweeney noted that the parks improvement initiative should continue to be a bonded effort as opposed to a direct obligation by the state's general fund, which is facing a widening deficit due to Wall Street's collapse and the general economic slowdown.

He added that parks improvements are the sort of infrastructure improvements likely to be favored in a federal stimulus package being designed by the incoming Obama administration. The nation's parks, Sweeney noted, still reflect the work done under the auspices of the federal Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.

Sean Mahar, legislative assistant for Audubon New York, said the downturn actually makes the parks improvements even more pressing due to the increasing number of cash-strapped New York families who are vacationing closer to home.

"The more we wait to make this investment, the more the costs increase and the benefits decrease," Mahar said.

Parks & Trails has collected more than 4,000 postcards asking Paterson to maintain the funding in next year's budget, which the governor is slated to release on Dec. 16.

Several state parks have already seen scaled-back services due to the governor's request for all state agencies to trim 10 percent from their operating budgets.

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservations oversees 178 parks and 35 historic sites.

Casey Seiler can be reached at 454-5619 or

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spa Park capital improvements continue despite economy

Spa park capital improvements start
Continued master plan work uncertain
Sunday, November 16, 2008
By Lee Coleman (Contact)
Gazette Reporter

Photographer: Marc Schultz

Saratoga Spa State Park is going through renovations around the park. New sidewalk pads are being paved and completed seen here in front of the Gideon Putnam Hotel.Text Size: A | A | A
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Despite financial cutbacks at parks across the state this fall, work on a master plan for Saratoga Spa State Park’s next 20 years continues.

“What’s nice about the master plan is that it really gives us an opportunity to think ahead,” said Alane Ball Chinian, the new regional director of the Saratoga-Capital District Region of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Such planning includes possible new capital projects and improvements at the park. But it also includes fiscal and energy sustainability programs that will serve the 2,200-acre state park well in the coming years, Chinian said.

Saratoga Spa State Park is the first in the state park system to start a new master plan. The decision was made in 2007, before the state and national financial meltdown began.

This past June, state park officials held and informational hearing at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in the park to start the master plan work. More than 200 people attended this meeting and made dozens of suggestions.

Everything from a fenced-in dog park to better grooming of the park’s cross country ski trails was discussed.

Chinian said work on the master plan has been ongoing since that time. It is coordinated by the park system’s planning office in Albany.

master plan work

Park Manager Michael Greenslade said local park staff and state planners meet every other week to discuss master plan work.

He also said that park renovation and maintenance projects approved and funded in the 2008-09 state budget are being completed, including the renovation of six “comfort stations” in the Spa State Park’s picnic areas.

Chinian said three special studies are being conducted as part of the master plan work.

One of these studies is an in-depth, extensive scientific study of the popular State Seal water that flows under a relatively new pavilion across Avenue of Pines from the Saratoga Automobile Museum.

“We know it’s safe,” Chinian said about this sparkling clear water that has little or no mineral taste. “But I encouraged a more in depth study of the water. It looks good, but not all the results are in.”

This water is being studied because it is used heavily by the greater Saratoga Springs community.

“It is truly a 24-7 operation,” Chinian said about the popularity of the State Seal water.

People bring large jugs and other containers at all time of the day and night so they can bring home the clear, fresh-tasting spring water.

The testing is for hundreds of minerals that could possibly be in the water.

A new traffic study is also being conducted, including the Avenue of Pines that runs through the park between Route 9 and Route 50.

“We are not sure of the use [of the avenue] for non-park purposes,” Chinian said. Traffic counts are currently being taken on Avenue of Pines to determine its use and which vehicles are park patrons or employees and which cars and trucks are just cutting through the park.

The third master plan study is on possibilities for new and better signs at the park entrances and inside the park.

weighing in

A group called the Saratoga Spa Park Partners Forum has been created. This group includes representatives of all the amenities offered in the park: Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the golf courses, the auto museum, the dance museum, Gideon Putnam Hotel and Conference Center, the Hall of Springs and the privately-operated restaurant that serves the park’s championship golf course.

“In these troubled times we meet and discuss ways in which we can support each other,” Chinian said.

She said the forum members want signs to indicate that the park can be a one-stop destination for tourists and other park patrons.

She said those various entities located within the park want to be able to market themselves more effectively with a better system of signs that are informative yet tasteful and in keeping with the park’s overall style.

At present there is a temporary banner that hangs below the main park sign on Route 9. Organizations such as SPAC or the Automobile Museum or the Lake George Opera Festival are all eager to hang their banner in this location to advertise their events and programs.

plan timetable

The first draft of the completed master plan is on schedule to be released in June, Chinian said.

As far as the coming winter is concerned at Spa State Park, park manager Greenslade said the basic park programs such as cross country skiing and ice skating will be offered.

The Spa State Park will not be closed during the winter months, for financial reasons, like some of the smaller parks in the state park system will be.

“We plan to do all the things we have done in the past,” Greenslade said. He said there have been some park staffing cuts, especially seasonal workers.

Chinian said the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has made two rounds of budget cuts this summer and fall. She said Gov. David Paterson has not called for additional budget cuts this fiscal year.

“What’s been done is done,” she said.

She said Schodack Island State Park in Rensselaer County has been closed for the winter and the state boat launch on Saratoga Lake and many state campgrounds were closed earlier than usual this year.

Yet despite all the cutbacks, work continues on some projects at the Saratoga Spa State Park and the Moreau Lake State Park, according to Kurt Kress, engineer for the Saratoga-Capital District Region.

Kress said that an additional $75 million in renovation and maintenance money for state parks was included in the 2008-09 state budget. Some $12 million of this was earmarked for the Saratoga-Capital Region parks.

He said engineering plans were prepared and contracts issued before the onset of the current national and state financial meltdown. That may offer some assurance that those projects will be completed.

“The contracts were let before the financial crisis,” Kress aid.

These projects include the six comfort stations in the Spa State Park’s picnic areas and another seven comfort station restorations at the Moreau Lake State Park.

Another Spa State Park project is the improvements to the bike and pedestrian paths. The biking and walking path along Avenue of Pines was paved this summer and fall. Other trail improvement work will be done in the spring, Kress said.

Kress said the bathrooms at the Moreau Lake State Park haven’t been renovated since they were opened in the 1960s.

He said contractors for the state will work through the winter to upgrade these bathrooms so they are ready for the 2009 camping and park season.

Kress said the parks region had to make a 10 percent reduction in funding this fall like every other state agency because of the current recession.

“What next year’s budget will hold, nobody knows,” Kress said about the state’s 2009-2010 budget.


Share story: print email +digg
+fark +reddit

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We strongly support designating some of Saratoga Spa State Park as "forever wild"

Publication:Schenectady Daily Gazette; Date:Nov 15, 2008; Section:Saratoga; Page:47


Parks’ status to be studied

‘Forever wild’ rule at issue


The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will study whether eight state parks near but outside the Adirondack Park — including part of Saratoga Spa State Park — should be treated as having constitutionally protected “forest preserve” status.

The parks will be studied in the next year as part of a settlement between the state and three Adirondack environmental groups, the groups announced Friday.

They had raised alarms about the Saratoga County Water Authority building a water line in Moreau Lake State Park, charging the work violated Article 14 of the state constitution.

That amendment declares state forest lands in 12 Adirondack counties “forever wild.” The Association for Protection of the Adirondacks, Adirondack Mountain Club and Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks contended the “forever wild” rule applied at Moreau Lake, even though it is outside the Adirondack Park. The state disagreed.

Under the settlement, the state will look at whether state parks in the designated counties, but outside the Adirondack Park, contain lands that should have forest preserve protection.

Article 14 applies to state lands in Hamilton, Essex, Clinton, Franklin, Fulton, Herkimer, St. Lawrence, Warren, Lewis, Oneida, Saratoga and Washington counties.

State parks spokeswoman Eileen Larrabee said the study doesn’t guarantee the parks will be treated as forest preserve.

“We have in essence agreed to disagree,” she said. “We have agreed to do a study and consider whether they should be treated as though they were forest preserve.”

The Adirondack groups said the agreement is a victory.

“It puts down in writing that [state parks] is a major player in state land, and that some of them have great wild character, and that they are willing to study them to determine if they should be in the forest preserve,” said David H. Gibson, executive director of the Association for Protection of the Adirondacks in Niskayuna.

The eight state parks to be studied are Crab Island, Cumberland Bay, Higley Flow, Macomb Reservation, Pixley Falls, Point Au Roche, Saratoga Spa and Whetstone Gulf.

“A lot of those are state lands that are undeveloped now, and likely will remain that way,” Larrabee said.

She said that study won’t apply to the already-developed sections of Saratoga Spa State Park, where the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Hall of Springs, golf course and other facilities are.

Gibson said the undeveloped parts of Saratoga Spa State Park to the south, between the main access road and the Kayaderosseras Creek, may qualify for treatment as forest preserve, or at least some form of further protection based on their wild character.

“Having the parks agency recognize that they indeed own and have responsibilities over forest preserve land is a victory for all of us,” said Michael Washburn, executive director of the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks.

In October, the county Water Authority approved making a $10,000 payment to the groups in return for their not filing a lawsuit. However, the three groups only recently signed final papers with the state parks agency, agreeing not to sue the state in return for the study and other measures.

Moreau Lake itself is not covered by the settlement. Larrabee said the state remains of the opinion the sprawling 4,100-acre park isn’t classified as forest preserve.

But the settlement calls for the state taking a number of actions at Moreau Lake.

Among those provisions are enhanced landscaping around the water authority’s water intake on the Hudson River, the state spending $300,000 on stewardship and education projects at the park, and that the state acquire three new acres — preferably at Moreau — for each acre that was disrupted by the water authority project.

The environmental groups said they’re confident the settlement means projects like the water line won’t happen in the other parks in the future, so a lawsuit wasn’t needed.

Yaddo Exhibit at New York Public Library in New York City is a joy to behold

New York Public Library Exhibition Explores the Far-Ranging Influence of a Fabled Artist’s Retreat

Yaddo: Making American Culture on view October 24, 2008 – February 15, 2009

New York, NY, October 24, 2008 - The iron gate that has welcomed generations of artists to Yaddo is now welcoming guests of The New York Public Library to a new exhibition about the fabled artists’ retreat, Yaddo: Making American Culture.

Founded more than a century ago on a wooded 400-acre estate in Saratoga Springs, New York, Yaddo has nurtured the creative work of some of the nation’s most distinguished writers, composers, performers and visual artists, while fostering a multitude of friendships, rivalries, collaborations and cross-influences. Artists who have worked at Yaddo have garnered 63 Pulitzer Prizes, 58 National Book Awards, 25 MacArthur “genius” awards, 8 Emmy Awards, a Nobel Prize, and countless other honors. By making a multigenerational community out of these artists, Yaddo has helped to forge a distinctive American tradition in the arts.

Now The New York Public Library explores the far-ranging influence of Yaddo, and opens a window onto some of the most significant events in twentieth-century life as experienced by its artists, in this richly detailed multimedia exhibition. The free exhibition is on view from October 24, 2008 to February 15, 2009 in the D. Samuel and Jeane H. Gottesman Exhibition Hall (First Floor) of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Sociologist and cultural critic Micki McGee, Fordham University, has served as the Spencer Trask & Co. Curator for Yaddo: Making American Culture.

Through a lively mixture of letters, papers, photographs, books, artworks, film clips and sound recordings Yaddo: Making American Culture offers a rare glimpse into the workings of this most private of institutions, revealing how it has hosted such luminaries as James Baldwin, Saul Bellow, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Aaron Copland, Philip Guston, Patricia Highsmith, Jacob Lawrence, Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor and Sylvia Plath. At the same time, the exhibition provides a new perspective on public events throughout the period. The economic and social turmoil of the 1930s, the destruction and displacements of World War II, the paranoia of the McCarthy era, the strife born of resistance to Jim Crow segregation, and the rise of the feminist and gay rights movements are among the developments that shaped Yaddo, the lives of the artists who sought shelter there and the works they produced. As a result, the exhibition gives an intimate yet panoramic view of American culture, from Yaddo’s first official season in 1926 through 1980.

The exhibition showcases extraordinary materials from the Yaddo Records—the retreat’s uniquely fascinating archive, which reveals the story of Yaddo and its artists. Since 1999, the Records have been a part of The New York Public Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Division, which makes them publicly accessible to researchers and preserves them for future generations. Additional installments to
the Library’s holdings from Yaddo’s ongoing records will be made through 2026, the hundredth anniversary of Yaddo’s first official season for invited guests. Joining the wealth of materials from the Yaddo Records in the exhibition are exceptional items from other NYPL collections, from Yaddo’s holdings of rare books and artworks and from other lenders.

“The Yaddo Records are a prized holding of The New York Public Library,” stated Paul LeClerc, President of the Library. “We take great pride in being able to offer the public access to materials that were once only accessible by a few. Our collection of Yaddo materials and the exhibition itself will be an exciting and eye-opening experience for anyone with an interest in American culture and the arts.”

“We are honored that The New York Public Library has chosen to make Yaddo the centerpiece of its fall and winter exhibition program,” stated Elaina H. Richardson, President of The Corporation of Yaddo. “Thanks to the Library’s enthusiasm, the cooperation of the lenders to the exhibition and the expert curatorship of Micki McGee, Yaddo: Making American Culture will initiate a festive celebration of Yaddo, in New York City and around the country.”

Plan of the Exhibition

Yaddo: Making American Culture unfolds its story in seven sections, organized according to the overall themes of what is given at Yaddo, and what is made.

Visitors enter the first section, What Is Given, through the actual Yaddo gate—brought to the Library for the exhibition—and are immediately surrounded by the atmosphere of the estate in its early years. Here visitors learn how the wealthy Spencer and Katrina Trask acquired Yaddo, remade it over the years and eventually resolved to convert it into a retreat for artists. Among the rare materials in this gallery is a portrait painting of Katrina Trask by Eastman Johnson, photographs of life at Yaddo taken by Spencer Trask, and a hand-drawn map of the grounds by artist Philip Reisman.

Refuge examines the different functions of Yaddo as a safe haven: from the bustle of city life, from the economic pressures of the Depression, from political persecution during the rise of European fascism. A stained-glass window by Louis Comfort Tiffany offers a pastoral view of the Yaddo grounds. Pictures by artists such as Louis Lozowick reflect the turmoil beyond Yaddo’s gate in the 1930s. Correspondence from Newton Arvin to Truman Capote tells the story of how Yaddo gave a place in America to the Danish novelist and political refugee Karin Michaëlis.

Running down the middle of the exhibition hall is Community. The centerpiece of this section is the Yaddo dining table, around which the resident artists gather every day. Projected onto the table are the names of artists, both celebrated and obscure, who were guests at Yaddo during the time period of the exhibition, from 1926 to 1980. A wall projection at the far end of the gallery displays maps of the social networks developed and fostered at Yaddo. Other highlights of this section include a colorful selection of handmade holiday cards from Yaddo artists.

Contention shows how Yaddo has been not only a refuge from the world’s conflicts but also a place where they have been played out. Compelling letters, photographs, books, press clippings and documents from the 1930s through 1960 reveal the struggles at Yaddo over admitting African American artists such as Langston Hughes and James Baldwin; the clash over accusations of covert Communist influence at the retreat; and the tragic outcome of the police persecution of Newton Arvin—literary scholar, long-time Yaddo advisor, and lover and mentor of the young Truman Capote—because of his homosexuality.

In contrast to the conflicts seen in Contention, Collaboration concentrates on the artistic partnerships that have emerged among Yaddo’s guests. Outstanding among these were the highly influential music festivals (later known as the Music Periods) that Aaron Copland originated in 1932, and that continued through 1952. At audio stations, visitors are able to hear historic recordings from the Yaddo festivals, as well as examples of collaborations among Yaddo’s writers and composers, including Ned Rorem’s settings of poems by Elizabeth Bishop.

Recognition explores how the reputations of Yaddo artists have fared over the years and considers the role of Yaddo in raising or lowering the barriers between high art and popular culture. Books, papers and other materials in this section reflect the diminishing fame of once-celebrated authors such as Evelyn Scott, James T. Farrell and Josephine Herbst; document Yaddo’s decision in 1967 not to admit sculptor Eva Hesse (now seen as one of the key artists of her generation); and provide insight into the careers of Yaddo authors such as Mario Puzo and Irving Stone, who gained popular success but paid for it with a loss of critical esteem.

The final section, Made at Yaddo,is devoted to a summary of the work that has been produced thanks to the retreat, which according to John Cheever has “seen more distinguished activity in the arts than any other piece of ground in the English-speaking community or perhaps in the entire world." In this section, visitors may listen to excerpts of music by composers including Marc Blitzstein and Leonard Bernstein; see original works by visual artists including Milton Avery, Clyfford Still, Philip Guston, George Rickey and Anne Truitt; view a montage by artist Shelly Silver, developed from films based on the works of Yaddo authors; and stand at the foot of a towering pile of more than a thousand books, representing only a fraction of the works published by authors within five years of their residence at Yaddo, 1926-1980.

Major Companion Volume to the Exhibition
Yaddo: Making American Culture, edited by exhibition curator Micki McGee, offers a fascinating glimpse into Yaddo and the lives and historical circumstances of the artists who lived and worked there. Richly illustrated with photographs, prints, intimate letters, documents and ephemera, primarily from archives and collections at Yaddo and at The New York Public Library, the volume includes essays by Marcelle Clements, David Gates, Allan Gurganus, Tim Page, Ruth Price, Helen Vendler, Barry Werth, and Karl Emil Willers; an introductory overview by Micki McGee; and a Yaddo timeline. Published in cloth and paperback by Columbia University Press in association with The New York Public Library, the book is available in The Library Shop.

Free Public Programs - Yaddo: Making American Culture

Curatorial Lecture

Humanities and Social Sciences Library

Celeste Bartos Education Center, South Court

Wednesday, January 14, at 6 p.m.

Repeated Tuesday, February 10, at 2 p.m.

An illustrated lecture by exhibition curator Micki McGee about the themes and content of the exhibition.

Film Programs

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Bruno Walter Auditorium, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza

Yaddo Authors on Film

Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m.: January 6, 13, 20, 27; February 3, 10

Film adaptations of works by Yaddo writers in residence, including Patricia Highsmith, Carson McCullers, John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, Walter Mosley and Raymond Carver.

Yaddo Filmmakers

Fridays at 2:30 p.m.: January 9, 16, 23, 30; February 6, 13

Special screening of The City, with program following: Wednesday, February 11,
at 6 p.m. at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library

Works by filmmakers who have had residencies at Yaddo, among them Laurel Chiten, Shelly Silver, Su Friedrich, Abigail Child and Ralph Steiner.

Special Screeningof The City

A special screening of the 1939 documentary The City in the South Court Auditorium on Wednesday, February 11, at 6 p.m. will be followed by a conversation between Joseph Horowitz (Artistic Director, Post-Classical Ensemble), who prepared liner notes on the Aaron Copland score for the new Naxos DVD release of the film; and documentary filmmaker/scholar George Stoney. The City (screening only; no program) will also be shown on February 13 at the Library for the Performing Arts.

These programs are free on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information about these and other Library programs and classes, pick up a copy of the Now brochure, available in Astor Hall, or visit or

Panel Discussions

Fordham University, Lincoln Center,

Pope Auditorium, 113 West 60th Street

The Lowell Affair: Catholics, Communists, and Yaddo’s Red Scare

Wednesday, October 29, at 6 p.m.

In February 1949, poet Robert Lowell ignited controversy and created dissent in the ordinarily quiet community of Yaddo with allegations that the renowned artists’ retreat had been harboring Communists. The ensuing imbroglio, known as "the Lowell Affair,” has since become the stuff of literary legend, as anti-Communist Catholics, including Lowell and Flannery O'Connor, faced off against members of the literary Left. Months before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s nationwide campaign made the “Red Scare” the central preoccupation of America, Yaddo served as the stage for the culture war to come.

Hosted by the Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University, this panel discussion on the Lowell Affair will include speakers Paul Elie, author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own; Saskia Hamilton, editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell; Steven Axelrod, author of Robert Lowell: Life and Art; Vince Passaro, Yaddo’s director of special projects; and guest curator Micki McGee.

This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are encouraged. To make a reservation, or for additional information, e-mail or call 718.817.0662.

College of Arts and Science at New York University
100 Washington Square East

A series of three panel discussions organized by Matthew S. Santirocco, Seryl Kushner Dean of the College of Arts and Science at New York University, will use the experience of Yaddo to explore questions of High and Low Culture (November 12, moderated by Marcelle Clements), Arts Patronage and Social Policy (December 4, moderated by Rick MacArthur) and Culture Wars from the 1930s Until Now (February 4, moderated by Marianne Weems).

Docent Tours

Free public tours of the exhibition are conducted Monday through Saturday at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.; and Sunday at 3:30 p.m. All group tours, including school groups, must be scheduled well in advance. Unauthorized tours are not permitted. To schedule a tour, call 212.930.0650. Group tour fees are $7 per person ($5 for seniors); there is no charge for full-time students.

Exhibition Support
For their support of the exhibition, The New York Public Library is grateful to The Corporation of Yaddo and its donors: The Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund, Spencer Trask & Co., Mary H. White and J. Christopher Flowers, the New York Council for the Humanities, public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, George Rickey Foundation, Inc., Harold Reed, Allan Gurganus, Peter C. Gould, Anthony and Margo Viscusi, Susan Brynteson, Nancy Sullivan, Bruce and Ellen Cohen, Rick Moody, Barbara Toll, Rackstraw Downes, Matthew Stover, Van der Veer Varner, Gardner McFall and Peter Olberg, Joseph Caldwell, John Ashbery, Geoffrey Movius, Patricia Volk, and two anonymous donors.

Support for The New York Public Library's Exhibitions Program has been provided by Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani and Adam Bartos, Jonathan Altman, and Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III.

Yaddo Exhibitions Around the Country
In celebration of Yaddo and the presentation at The New York Public Library, libraries and archives nationwide will present fifteen exhibitions in 2008-09, showcasing Yaddo artists for whom they hold papers. The participating institutions are the Grolier Club of New York; the Saratoga Springs Public Library; the Houghton Library at Harvard University; the University of Maryland Libraries; the Green Library at Stanford University; the Hayden Library at Arizona State University; the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin; the Eudora Welty Education and Visitors Center of The Mississippi Department of Archives and History; the Northwestern University Library; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the Pennsylvania State University Libraries; the William Allan Neilson Library at Smith College; the Flannery O’Connor Collection at Georgia College & State University; the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University; and the University of Delaware Library.


Timed to coincide with the presentation of Yaddo: Making American Culture, Yaddo has launched Yaddocast, a multimedia podcast series that explores the history, culture and artistic achievements of the acclaimed artists’ retreat and its artist guests. Written and maintained by noted podcasters Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards, Yaddocast episodes are available for download at through February 2009, and indefinitely for download through media players such as iTunes or Juice, and through the video-sharing website YouTube. For more information, visit: and click on the “Looking for Yaddocast” icon in the top left corner of the home page.

About Yaddo

Yaddo is an artists’ community established in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1900 by the financier Spencer Trask and his poet wife, Katrina, to offer creative artists the rare gift of a supportive environment with uninterrupted time to think, experiment and create. Over 200 artists are invited each year for residencies lasting up to two months, and their accomplishments in all fields are a testimony to Yaddo’s long and distinguished history as one of America’s most important cultural institutions. Over the years, Yaddo has welcomed more than 5,500 artists working in one or more of the following media: choreography, film, literature, musical composition, painting, performance art, photography, printmaking, sculpture and video. The guests have included such notable men and women as Milton Avery, James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Elizabeth Bishop, Truman Capote, John Cheever, Aaron Copland, Philip Guston, Ulysses Kay, Langston Hughes, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Katherine Anne Porter, Clyfford Still, Virgil Thomson and William Carlos Williams.

About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. It comprises four research centers—the Humanities and Social Sciences Library; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the Science, Industry and Business Library—and 87 branch libraries in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items, including materials for the visually impaired. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, beginning genealogy classes and English as a second language. The Library serves some 16 million patrons who come through its doors annually and another 25 million users internationally, who access collections and services through the NYPL website,

Hours and General Information

The exhibition is open during regular Library hours: Monday, Thursday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Tuesday–Wednesday, 11 a.m.–7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1–5 p.m. Closed federal holidays and Sunday, December 7. For more information on hours, current and upcoming exhibitions, programs, and services at The New York Public Library, call 212.592.7730 or visit the Library’s website at


Contact: Nadia Riley | 212.592.7177 |

Contact: Amy Wentz | Ruder Finn A&CC | 212.715.1551 |

nr: 10.24.08:nypl

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations America!

This ain’t your father’s revolution
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
A swelling crowd of 200 to 300 people came together to form a loud, jubilant street walk down Broadway at midnight on Tuesday to celebrate the victory of Barack Obama.

They wore American flags, pounded on snare drums and chanted the new president’s name as they crowded onto the down-sloping hill of Caroline Street.

City Police arrived on the scene and closed off the street for the young revelers, who expressed their joy and quickly dispersed, walking back up the hill and onto Broadway, where they were last seen headed in the northerly direction of Skidmore College.

Post Star, 11/5/08

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Rejoice in your vote and Weep for the Ballet and SPAC, Saratogian, 11/4/08

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center will cut back the season of the NYC Ballet, seen here performing in July, from three weeks down to two next year due to economic pressures. The Saratogian/File photo
SARATOGA SPRINGS - The New York City Ballet will be spending only two weeks at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center next July, instead of the usual three.

The decision, announced Monday at a SPAC board meeting, followed a great deal of soul searching, said Ken Tabachnick, the NYC Ballet general manager.

"It is necessary for us to be realistic," Tabachnick said.

The reality is in good years the New York City Ballet and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center each lose about $1 million a year to bring the ballet to Saratoga Springs for three weeks each summer. So, while he said the ballet remains firmly committed to its residency in Saratoga Springs, the decision was in the ballet's best economic interest.

The reduction helps cut SPAC losses, too.

"Overall we are optimistic that this change will be a net positive for both SPAC and the NYCB. We believe that a shorter season will not only reduce expenses, but encourage higher attendance at each performance, which is a goal that we both support," said William Dake, the SPAC board chairman.

SPAC has seen a decrease in attendance for the ballet in the past few years, a statistic on par with national figures.

Dake said he sees the shortened NYC Ballet season - from July 7 to 18 - as an opportunity to broaden the SPAC programs with some other form of dance for the third week, likely a group of national prominence. SPAC President and Executive Director Marcia J. White declined to offer suggestions to the board as to what might replace the ballet's third week. She said ideas are being discussed and SPAC is open to ideas from the public, but directed the conversation about a possible replacement to occur at another meeting.


Monday's announcement came as a surprise to local officials. "This is precisely why our community fought so hard to get a city representative on the SPAC board," said Saratoga Springs Supervisor Joanne Yepsen when called for comment. "Whenever decisions have significant affect on our local economy it is important to work closely with the host city."

A few years ago, a bombshell announcement by the SPAC board that it would be dropping the NYC Ballet caused an uproar, which contributed to a turnover of SPAC management and an almost entirely new board.

This time, a reduction of the residency is not likely to cause such a stir.

"It is certainly unfortunate that the season will be cut back, but it's a sign of our tough economic times," said Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson. "If people want a three-week ballet season, they need to support the ballet more when it's here. Attendance has been down. Whenever you have tough economic times, the arts are the first to suffer."

White called SPAC a cultural icon and a cultural hub, which the state considers at budget time.

"We are an economic engine bringing in $30 million to the immediate community," she said.

The board of directors received a brief overview of the organization's financial situation at the meeting, which took place in Albany. SPAC is projected to end the year "slightly in the black," but the organization's investments are down 16 percent.

The 2009 budget is still being worked on, with a draft form expected at the end of November. Board members will likely have the draft to review the first week of December and the matter introduced at the scheduled Dec. 12 board meeting.

White said ticket prices and membership prices will remain the same as this year. Although state money has been earmarked for the rehabilitation for the exterior of the SPAC amphitheater, some of those funds have not yet been received. The $2.5 million project will remove the exterior siding and replace it with a new façade - the look has been a subject of controversy and is being redesigned - as well as putting in new railing, lighting and sound systems.

While Dake said the organization seems to be in a "stable position," he reminded the board that most not-for-profits depend on half of their revenue coming from contributions and support. The 2009 season will be the last season for a number of endowments created after a state audit in 2004 resulted in a complete overhaul of the board of directors as well as the firing of the previous SPAC president.

"I don't want to be as dependent as we have been," Dake said of the endowments. He suggested some of the benefactors may opt to continue their gifts.

In addition to the ballet, SPAC's summer season also features the Philadelphia Orchestra. When asked whether the orchestra will also be looking to reduce its time in Saratoga Springs, Dake said, "As far as we know it is not on the table at this point."

"People are more amenable to making changes in these tough economic times," Dake said. "This may be an opportunity to create a greater interest in some areas."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Parks closes Schodack Island State Park with no public notice. Will Saratoga be next?

Park closure spurs forum

SCHODACK--A meeting to discuss the closure of the Schodack Island State Park and to brainstorm ideas on how to keep the park open this winter, will be held Thursday, October 30 at 7 p.m. at the town hall, 265 Schuurman Road.

Supervisor Beth Secor and Assemblyman Tim Gordon (I-108th District) called for the forum and the State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), agreed to meet with local residents and elected officials.
The park closed after business hours on Monday, October 13.
"The residents of Schodack and the surrounding areas utilize this wonderful resource throughout the winter," said Mr. Gordon. "It's sudden closing without public knowledge and input is a real blow to the community. It is essential that OPRHP hear what the people have to say."
Residents were rankled when they learned of the park's closing, only days before it happened, and strongly objected to the action being taken without considering the needs and desires of the people who use the park.
Close to 700 people have signed petitions against the parks closure, an effort spearheaded by resident Elizabeth Peters, who brought the issue to the attention of The Independent.
"We're glad parks and recreation have agreed to this meeting," said Mrs. Peters. "We want to keep it a positive one though and not just a forum for people to complain, but to come up with ideas on how to keep the park open, even if on a part-time basis."
Mrs. Secor said the meeting may help all parties discover a way to keep the park open.
"The town has resources that may be used to help address some of the needs for services over the winter," she said. "Communicating with us prior to the closing may have led to a different outcome."
According to Elaine Chinnian, regional director for the Saratoga/Capital District Region, every year since the park opened the usage has increased.
"The Department of Parks and Recreation should listen to the people and take into consideration the impact the closing will have on their quality of life," Mr. Gordon said. "They must work with the residents and local officials to arrive at a solution that will both save the state money in these difficult times and allow residents access to this unique recreational resource on the Hudson River."
Mrs. Secor hopes to get the word out to as many residents as possible before next Thursday.
"This was not the best way to go about this; to make a unilateral decision," she told The Independent. "Input from residents and officials was needed before action was taken."
Mrs. Secor said she expects OPRHP representatives will explain their budget and why Schodack's park was selected as the one to close.
"I'd like to see real numbers and also what is being done to save money at other state parks," she said.
She noted that the state paid $2 million to have the road leading into the park constructed.
"They have a tremendous investment here," she said.
The park here is the only to close down, but other parks throughout the state are operating with reduced hours and less staff, according to Ms. Chinnian.
Rensselaer County Legislators Martin Reid and Alex Shannon are calling on New York State and Governor David Paterson to allow for a public hearing and public comment on the closure of the Schodack Island State Park.
"Residents are still very upset that the Schodack Island State Park was closed and they are also angry with the abrupt manner the park was closed. The residents who use this park or are affected by the closing deserve a chance to be heard," said Mr. Reid (R-District 4).
"We are certain that if state officials allow a public hearing that they will hear loud and clear that the people want the park reopened. A public hearing on the park closing would be good and open government," added Mr. Shannon.
The two lawmakers said they will send a letter to the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation requesting the public hearing. Mr. Reid and Mr. Shannon are also considering a resolution at the November 12 legislative meeting urging the scheduling of a public hearing.
The park is just below the Village of Castleton on Route 9J. Open year-round, the park features boating, hiking, great views of the Hudson River and during the winter months, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Mr. Shannon, chairman of the Legislature's Environmental Committee, said the turnout at the park was strong during the final weekend. During an hour-long period at the park entrance, Mr. Shannon said he counted more than 30 cars and trucks entering the park.
The decision by the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation was made after Governor Paterson called for a 7% reduction in the Parks and Recreation overall budget. The park is expected to reopen in April or May.
Ms. Chinnian said the gate will be closed, as will all of the parks buildings and there will be no staff on site. People can, however, enter at their own risk.
Supervisor Secor and Mr. Gordon met with Deputy Parks Commissioner Andy Beers, in Albany, Friday, October 10 and delivered petitions with more than 400 signatures opposing the parks closure.
According to Eileen Larabee, parks director of communication, it is estimated the state will save $83,000 by having the park closed for six months. People argue, however, that reopening the park in the spring will be more expensive than usual because the park and its trails will not have been maintained during that time frame.
People are also worried about the possible danger to people who access the park, if hunters are on the land without supervision.
At its meeting October 9, the Town Board unanimously adopted a resolution asking the office of parks and recreation to reconsider it's decision. The legislature adopted similar legislation Tuesday, October 14.
Resident Ken Stokem is concerned that this seasonal closing is just the beginning of the end for the park.
"Much of the year, the park does not charge for visits, so they have no real idea how much we use it," he said. "I wonder how saving less than $12,000 a month going to help the state in resolving its fiscal concerns.
"If they don't maintain it, it will cost them much more to reopen and repair it for each summer season, than they may save by closing it," he added "Unplowed and un-patrolled there is substantial opportunity for damage, vandalism, poaching, and other mayhem to occur. Just clearing and reopening it trails will entail a lot of time and expense. This decision makes little real sense and is unfair to the public."
To file a complaint call 584-2000 or log onto

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Tip of the Iceberg"

print story
Shuttering parks for winter is just the tip of iceberg

First published: Wednesday, October 22, 2008

As a sign of the long, cold winter ahead in more ways than one, the notice from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation did not move the planets out of alignment.
But it was an ominous sign all the same.

Because of budget constraints, the relatively new state park on Schodack Island will be closed for the winter. So will another small park in the central part of the state, some boat launches and a few winter programs

As a practical matter, Schodack Island doesn't get a lot of use in the winter anyway. Unlike, say, Thacher up in the Helderbergs or Grafton in Rensselaer County, both of which offer very popular and varied winter sports and activities.

Closing Schodack Island for the winter will only save the state about $83,000, a spokesman said, The roads won't be plowed, the parking lot will be chained closed and there will no bathroom facilities.

But because 83 percent of the agency's budget goes toward operating parks and their programs, there's not much wiggle room when mandated cuts are imposed on the existing budget, as they have been. Twice this year already.

At the Department of Environmental Conservation, which runs other state parks and recreation programs — don't ask — planned cutbacks for the same reason are so far equally modest. One tow rope at the beginner slope and one lift will be closed at Belleayre, about 10 percent of the operation. Elsewhere, a couple of maintenance offices will be consolidated.

But don't fool yourself for a second. These are only the smallest of hints of things to come.

Not a one among the state's wisest fiscal prognosticaters can tell us yet how bad it's going to get, but that it most certainly will be bad remains a safe bet.

The bottom line of what we will witness between the Legislature's Nov. 18 special session and and the end of the next budget cycle, around April 1, is a profound downsizing of what we can reasonably expect our state government to do for us. Closing or tightly restricting the use of other state parks and recreational facilities is the least of it.

The really big ticket items for the state budget, Medicaid and education funding, will have to take major hits. The only question is how much.

New York's platinum Medicaid benefits have to be scaled back, and that's all there is to it. We can't afford it anymore.

On the education side, tell Washington to stick No Child Left Behind in its ear. Many other states have done so already, because it is a largely ineffective, mostly unfunded mandate driving up the cost of local school budgets.

Some of my conservative friends, I'm sure are saying, ah-men to much of that.

Those same folks, though, who tend to be Republican, have to be blanching at the promises Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is making concerning no cuts ahead in education spending. Those assurances are mindboggling given the state's catastrophic revenue stream.

There is such a thing as going too far with political opportunism. Skelos has slipped into irresponsible by promising the New York State United Teachers union that his house won't entertain education budget cuts.

Given that we don't know where we're going in terms of state finances, those are promises that can't be made. Or worse, they guarantee gridlock in upcoming delicate negotiations for the downsizing of our government, which is bound to be ahead of us.

Education cuts have to on the table.

Now, I do not fault the teachers unions for backing whoever they think will give them what they want. The union represents a special interest. No doubt, we'll be hearing from the health care industy and related unions along the same lines.

How can the Republican Senate feverishly vote for tax caps, and at the same time hold the line against education cuts when we have drastically reduced revenues? Those are absolute opposites in terms of effect on the taxpayer.

It's the logic of desperation politics, I suppose.

Certainly the infusion of scads of NYSUT lobbying money and the union's phone banks promoting endorsed Republican candidates might help the GOP keep their Senate majority.

Although the promises necessary for NYSUT's support could fuel a backlash against them just as easily. Not to mention pose quite a dilemma when the time comes to actually make good on those promises.

Fred LeBrun can be reached at 454-5453 or by e-mail at

Sunday, October 12, 2008

SPAC facade delayed until 2010----43 yrs. and counting

SPAC façade won't be in place until 2010
By PAUL POST , The Saratogian

The present exterior view of SPAC. ERICA MILLER/The Saratogian
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Saratoga Performing Arts Center visitors will see noticeable improvements next year, but a new façade won't be in place until 2010, officials said Friday.

In May, SPAC unveiled a controversial new exterior design that critics quickly dubbed "The Stack," because of its likeness to a stack of pancakes.

That work - along with newly designed exterior ramps, lighting and sound - is part of a $2.5 million project, the third and final phase of a multi-year effort to upgrade the 42-year-old venue.

Work on the entire Phase III project was originally scheduled to begin this fall. Instead, only the ramps, lighting, sound and new restrooms will be done.


"That type of work can go on in the winter, so there's no squeeze and there should be plenty of time in the spring," SPAC Chairman William Dake said.

The façade, however, is taking longer because of the time involved with creating and getting an alternate design approved.

"We're looking at new designs and new estimates of those designs," said Alane Ball-Chinian, regional director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. SPAC's property is owned by the state.

By next year, familiar globe lights on exterior ramps will be removed and replaced with more of a subdued type of lighting. The old sound system will be improved, too.

"They've just gotten more effective at projecting sound," Dake said.

The first two phases of SPAC work brought various infrastructure upgrades such as roof repairs, rehearsal room renovations and improvements to heating and ventilation systems. New drainage was also installed and old seats were replaced with more than 5,000 new padded models.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Governor Picks Delaware North already running Gideon Putnam Hotel and Racino for Aqueduct Race Track slots

Racino contract awarded
By PAUL POST , The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Gov. David Paterson has chosen Delaware North Companies and its partner - Saratoga Harness Racing Inc., which owns Saratoga Gaming & Raceway - to open and run a racino at Aqueduct Race Track.


It's a long-awaited decision that will mean millions to Saratoga Race Course, because the summertime thoroughbred track is slated to receive a cut of the money generated by the downstate racino.

However, one of the people whose approval is required - Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Center - isn't happy with the choice, saying it doesn't address economic development and job creation surrounding Aqueduct. So the selection may not be a done deal.

"It is shocking that Sen. Skelos, who claims to understand the importance of this revenue stream and who has repeatedly and publicly called on the governor to award this contract, has now decided to stall a significant economic development project," Paterson spokeswoman Rita Heller said in a press statement. "Delaware North presents the strongest financial proposal with an upfront payment of $370 million."

Delaware North's New York roots apparently weighed heavily with Paterson. The Buffalo-based firm runs Saratoga Gaming & Raceway's video lottery terminals and manages the Gideon Putnam Hotel at the Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs. In addition, it owns and runs Finger Lakes Race Track, a thoroughbred venue near Rochester, and operates Fairgounds Gaming at Buffalo Raceway.

"They have a proven successful track record in New York state," said Sisa Moyo, a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, the other person whose approval is required. "The governor selected them and we're comfortable with that decision."

Delaware North/Saratoga Harness is one of three entities that bid for the contract to run a 4,500-machine VLT facility at Aqueduct.

Construction is expected to take 15 to 18 months, meaning it would likely start up in early or mid-2010, generating a projected $450 million per year that would boost purses at each of the state's three main thoroughbred tracks - Saratoga Race Course, Aqueduct Race Track and Belmont Park.

Delaware North President William Bissett issued a one-paragraph statement Friday saying the company looks forward to bringing "a new and exciting Aqueduct to the Queens community and much needed economic stimulus to the state of New York."

Skelos and the competing bidders were quick to denounce the governor's choice.

"It appears that Gov. Paterson is supporting a bid that only includes plans for a racino and does not include any proposal to generate needed economic development," Skelos said. "It appears that in an effort to close the budget deficit, Gov. Paterson has made a choice that may not be in the best longterm interests of the state or for the communities that surround Aqueduct. It is our belief that unless we made Aqueduct a true destination venue, this project will not generate the largest possible benefit."

Skelos, however, isn't saying which firm he prefers.

Aqueduct is bordered by John F. Kennedy International Airport - one of the world's busiest airports - a New York subway line, residential neighborhoods and Rockaway Boulevard, a heavily-traveled commercial strip.

The best proposal would provide for job creation in that area, which Delaware North hasn't, said Skelos spokesman Mark Hansen. But he didn't specify the type of development Skelos envisions.

Delaware North/Saratoga Harness offered the state the largest upfront payment - $370 million. Competitor SL Green/Hard Rock Entertainment offered $250 million, and Capital Play/Mohegan Sun offered $100 million. Both of the latter proposals included plans for large-scale entertainment-retail complexes beyond the VLTs.

Mohegan Sun's proposal includes a hotel. President and CEO Mitchell Etess said his firm would generate $6 billion more than other entities over the life of the 30-year contract.

"This would be a very bad mistake," he said of the governor's selection. "Our longterm revenue far exceeds any of the competitors. If the state is willing to accept far less money in the long run, there's nothing we can do about it. It's very shortsighted."

The gaming selection process was decided by the governor, Senate and Assembly leaders earlier this year, a political insider said. There are no clear-cut rules as to whether the state's top three leaders just need to agree, or whether the decision requires a full legislative vote, he said.

Robert Bellafiore, a spokesman for SL Green, said, "The governor can't give this contract out. The governor's office makes a recommendation."

The New York Racing Association has been anxious for Aqueduct's gaming to get started because of the added revenue it will produce. President and CEO Charles Hayward said he felt confident that any of the three bidders would run a "first-class racino."

"We're going to be motivated to work with these guys, to make them a bigger success, because we get 7 percent of the net win - 4 percent for capital expenses, 3 percent for operating expenses," he said. "I've seen Delaware North in action at Finger Lakes and Saratoga so we're very comfortable with them."

NYRA has no official voice in the selection, but has made its wishes known to the state. Previously, Hayward said he didn't want Capital Play (Mohegan Sun), which challenged NYRA for the latest racing contract. This year NYRA was granted a |25-year contract to continue as operator of Saratoga Race Course, Belmont Park and Aqueduct Race Track.

Mohegan Sun runs what is generally considered the Northeast's most successful casino, in Connecticut, which left some doubting how actively it would market Aqueduct.

Etess, however, said, "We had planned to turn Aqueduct into a premier destination."

Mohegan Sun has an extensive customer database, and Etess said it planned to promote Aqueduct much more heavily than Connecticut to the New York City market.

Etess said he's unsure why Paterson made the choice he did. "I would not want to speculate," he said. "I'm sure he'll have to explain it to the people."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Seasonal employees only cuts at Saratoga Spa State Park so far.....

Tree nursery, parks feeling state budget cuts
By: PAUL POST , The Saratogian

David Lee, supervisor at the state Department of Environmental Conservation's Saratoga Tree Nursery on Route 50, examines 3-year-old red oak trees grown from acorns at the site. (ED BURKE/The Saratogian)

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The head of state-owned Saratoga Tree Nursery is concerned that his facility could fall victim to the budget chopping block.

With 10 full-time and nearly two dozen seasonal workers, the nursery distributes 1.5 million seedlings per year to private land owners for use in valuable projects such as erosion control, reforestation, wildlife habitat restoration and buffering agricultural lands from nearby water sources.

Founded in 1911, the 200-acre site is the last remaining state-owned operation of its kind, down from the half-dozen or so that previously served various parts of New York. Recently, the cash-strapped state cut the nursery's non-personnel budget by 14 percent ($30,000) that will make it difficult to collect seeds needed for growing new trees and shrubs.


"I have a concern that they might take a look at the program and decide that we are no longer needed, which would be a loss to New York residents as far as having a source to obtain low-cost seedlings," Supervising Forester David Lee said.

Autumn is normally a time for collecting and sewing some plant and tree seeds in the ground. Nursery employees collect seeds on their own, but also rely on a statewide network of people who, in the past, have been reimbursed for turning in seed-bearing cones and fruit.

"We've been forced to cut back due to budget cuts," Lee said. "Some species (red pine, red oak) we might have to eliminate if we're not able to obtain the needed amount of seed ourselves. The amount we're going to be able to plant is going to be a lot less."

In addition to providing seedlings to residents at cost, the nursery also has an extensive school program.

Classroom groups are allowed to get 50 free seedlings that may be planted on school grounds or used in some other type of educational program determined by their teacher.

State forest rangers, whose headquarters are at the tree nursery, are also feeling budget cut impacts. No staff reductions are anticipated, but equipment and supply purchases are being kept to a minimum. "We are cutting back on training, meetings, conferences, which will translate into less overtime being used and a savings in mileage," said Lori O'Connell, a state Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman.

Elsewhere, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has sent seasonal workers home early and is cutting back on some facilities and services.

"We had to cut the season short for several of our employees who would normally work till the end of November, office staff and grounds people," Saratoga Spa State Park Manager Mike Greenslade said.

Saratoga-Capital Region Director Alane Chinian said that seasonal layoffs have occurred across the board, throughout the area. Also, the state has imposed a hiring freeze meaning that retiring employees aren't being replaced.

Chinian said that her region has been directed to reduce spending $250,000 before the start of the state's next fiscal year on April 1. Some equipment purchases have been delayed to help meet that goal.

However, Chinian said she's extremely concerned about the cost of this winter's heating costs, even though the park took a number of energy conservation measures, installing new boilers.

The parks department has already decided not to keep Schodack Island State Park in Castleton open this winter. The gate will be closed and an access road won't be plowed, meaning that hunters and cross-country skiers will have to park elsewhere and hike in.

Two campgrounds in Rensselaer and Schoharie counties have closed early, too.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

State Parks take hits from budget cuts, times union,10/7/08

Schodack Island access curtailed
State budget cuts close Rensselaer County park until April

By KENNETH C. CROWE II, Staff writer
Last updated: 7:26 a.m., Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SCHODACK — Schodack Island State Park will close next week for six months as part of a 10 percent cut in the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation budget.

"The gate will be locked. The buildings will be closed,'' Bob Kuehn, assistant regional director of the Saratoga-Capital District Park Region, said Monday. He said the action is in response to Gov. David Paterson's directive to make buget cuts

Schodack Island State Park will shut after the upcoming Columbus Day holiday weekend. It is not expected to reopen until after April 1, which is the start of the state's next fiscal year.

It's the only Capital Region park that is closing completely and one of three statewide. The other parks shutting down are Woodlawn and Silver Lake in the western park of the state.

Rensselaer County Legislators Martin Reid, R-Sand Lake, and Alex Shannon, R-Schodack, said closing Schodack Island is unfair to Capital Region residents.

"In our view, Schodack Island State Park offers residents important access points to the river and is operated at a relatively small cost when compared to other parks,'' said County Legislator Martin Reid, R-Sand Lake. The park is in both Reid's and Shannon's districts.

"We believe the state could have gone about this in a different manner and found solutions to keep the park open,'' Reid continued.

Decisions on where to make budget cuts were left up to the parks department's 11 regions. Of $9 million cut from the parks department budget, $4 million was directly related to park operations and the rest from delaying equipment purchases and projects plus not filling vacancies, said Eileen Larrabee, a department spokeswoman. The Saratoga-Capital District Region cut $225,000 in park services.

"We're trying to minimize the impact on the public. ... There are realities we have to deal with,'' Larrabee said.

Kuehn said the campgrounds at Cherry Plain State Park in Berlin and Max V. Shaul State Park in Schoharie County were closed early and the hours at the state boat ramp on Saratoga Lake, part of Saratoga Spa State Park, were reduced to weekends after Labor Day.

Saratoga's "bubble" could continue.....AMD is coming!

AMD announces new partnership, plans to build Luther Forest plant
From Staff and wire reports
Updated: Tuesday, October 7, 2008 6:37 AM EDT

Larger Text
Smaller Text

NEW YORK – Advanced Micro Devices announced this morning it is going forward with construction of a new computer chip manufacturing facility in Malta’s Luther Forest technology campus – with a little help from its friends.

The struggling semiconductor firm – the second largest in the world – is partnering with the Advanced Technology Investment Company of Abu Dhabi to create a new company, temporarily called “The Foundry Company,” that will infuse AMD with cash, take on some of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm’s debt and upgrade its manufacturing facilities, according to a prepared statement.

Construction of the Malta plant, expected to employ 1,400 once it comes online, is dependent on whether AMD is successful in transferring state incentives – totaling about $1.2 billion in tax breaks and other perks – to the new company, which will take on operation of AMD’s manufacturing facilities.

Construction could begin on the plant in the middle of 2009, according to the press release.

In return, the Abu Dhabi firm will contribute $2.1 billion to purchase its stake in The Foundry Company, of which $1.4 billion will be invested into The Foundry Company, while the rest will be given to AMD in return for an ownership stake in the tech firm.

ATIC has committed additional equity funding to The Foundry Company of a minimum of $3.6 billion and up to $6.0 billion over the next five years to fund the expansion of The Foundry Company’s chip-making capacity beyond the manufacturing facilities initially contributed by AMD.

These funds will be used by The Foundry Company to begin construction of the Malta facility. The New York facility is expected to create more than 1,400 direct jobs, and, through its operation, to generate an additional 5,000 jobs in the region, AMD has said.

Once operational, the New York facility will be the only independently-managed, leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing foundry in the United States.

The Board of Directors of The Foundry Company will be equally divided between representatives of AMD and ATIC. AMD will own 44.4 percent and ATIC will own 55.6 percent of The Foundry Company’s fully-converted common stock upon its formation.

Doug Grose will relinquish his current role as AMD’s senior vice president of manufacturing operations to become chief executive officer of The Foundry Company. Hector Ruiz will relinquish his current role as AMD’s executive chairman and chairman of the board to become chairman of The Foundry Company. To augment its announced leadership, the new company plans an aggressive recruitment strategy to round out a world-class semiconductor manufacturing leadership team.

ATIC is an investment company formed by the government of Abu Dhabi to invest in advanced technology opportunities.

“Today is a landmark day for AMD, creating a financially stronger company with a tightened focus,” said Dirk Meyer, president and chief executive officer of AMD. “With The Foundry Company, AMD has developed an innovative way to focus our efforts on design while maintaining access to the leading-edge manufacturing technologies that our business needs without the required capital-intensive investments of semiconductor manufacturing.

“I particularly want to congratulate our Chairman Hector Ruiz, whose vision and leadership of our Asset Smart strategy is fulfilled today.”

Upon closing of the transaction, The Foundry Company will commence operations with approximately 3,000 employees who will transition into the new company from AMD facilities in Silicon Valley, New York, Dresden, and Austin. The new company’s principal headquarters will be in Silicon Valley and its research and development and manufacturing leadership teams and ecosystems will be based in New York, Dresden, and Austin.

After the upgrade and expansion in Dresden and the build-out of the New York facility, The Foundry Company envisions expanding its global manufacturing footprint over time, if commercially justified, to also include new fabrication facilities in Abu Dhabi.

The transaction is expected to close at the beginning of 2009, following satisfaction of conditions such as approvals from regulators, transfer of previously-confirmed New York incentives to The Foundry Company, and stockholder approval for the issuance of common stock and warrants to the Abu Dhabi company.

The Post-Star will update this story throughout the day today. Read more in Wednesday’s edition.

New MapQuest Local shows what's happening at your destination. Dining, Movies, Events, News & more. Try it out!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

bravo to the Friends of Saratoga State Park staff and Friends.

Congratulations to the terrific engineering staff and Friends of Saratoga Spa State Park for redoing Hawthorne #3 Pavillion. Hawthorne #3 is a great treasure and one of the historic springs that brought our beautiful Saratoga Springs into existence.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Alert!! Dog Park at Saratoga Spa State Park in danger.

Rumor has it Saratoga Spa State Park is planning to shut down the immensely popular Dog Park on the other side of the Route 9 Avenue of Pines entrance because of the Karner Blue butterflys. With 2500 acres why isn't there room for both? Our tax dollars NOT at work again?

Friday, September 26, 2008

SPAC Rocks, Times Union 9/26/08

SPAC sales: Rock rocks, but orchestra strains

Last updated: 7:17 p.m., Friday, September 26, 2008

COLONIE - The Police, Journey and other big-ticket rock acts put on by promoter Live Nation helped the Saratoga Performing Arts Center break even this summer, despite a continuing slide in the number of tickets sold for the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York City Ballet.

The orchestra, ballet and other SPAC-run shows accounted for $2.6 million in ticket sales, but the amount was still a 9 percent drop from 2007. The total attendance for those shows was about 88,000, also a 9 percent drop, SPAC Chief Financial Officer Richard Geary said.

The board blamed the downturn in classical sales on a crumbling economy and a soggy summer that saw rain mar several performances.

"We had the same kind of season as the track, where sales were (also) down," Board Chairman Bill Dake said during a SPAC board meeting today at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center.

The board said ticket sales for Live Nation's show, which also featured the Dave Matthews Band and Bob Dylan, shot up by more than 27 percent. The board declined to say exactly how many people went to the rock shows, but said that the high attendance kicked in SPAC's bonus clause with Live Nation and it received another $65,000 on top of its guaranteed $1 million.

But SPAC lost more than $1 million alone on the New York City Ballet, which had $1.2 million in sales and $2.3 million in expenses. The performing arts center took an even more devastating hit with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which saw sales of only $742,000 but had expenses of more than $2 million.

"It's disappointing that, with the orchestra, we are now covering only 37 percent of the costs with ticket sales," Geary said.

SPAC had budgeted for $375,000 more in classical sales - including its Freihoefer Jazz Festival - this year. Regardless, some board members said they were happy with the turnout.

"The overall attendance, while not pleasing to all of us, is good compared to what's happening elsewhere in the art world and sales at organizations similar to us," said Dake.

Other elements that helped make up for the classical sales shortfalls were more advertising and more endowments, SPAC President and Executive Director Marsha White said.

Dake made dire predictions for the 2009 summer season.

"The economy will have an impact not only on us but also on our partners," he said. "There is a triple threat: sales go down, endowments go down and subscriptions go down."

Friday, September 19, 2008

SPAC facade stalled, Saratogian, 9/16/08

Budget, design stall SPAC facade overhaul
By ANN MARIE FRENCH , The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS - While renovations of other parts of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center are moving forward, the overhaul to the facade continues to be stalled in discussion of conceptual designs and budget numbers.


Alane Chinian, regional director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, said Wednesday the conceptual redesign of the building came in over budget, but she did not offer detailed figures.

The original design, presented in May, was meant to reflect musical sound waves and the waves of streams passing through the park, said Bob Bristol, president and CEO of Saratoga Associates, the company behind the design. Bristol said the amphitheater's new look was under design for roughly a year, with input and review by Parks and the SPAC board. The wave-like patterns were to be made of beige-colored recycled material. Critics said it looked more like a stack of pancakes than waves.

"They are proposing something much more conservative, which is really an updating of what is there now," said Chinian. "We want to reflect SPAC as a modern, contemporary, world-class facility but still stay in budget."

The amphitheater has not seen major exterior improvements since it opened in 1966. Globe lights on outside ramps leading to the balcony will be replaced with more subdued ground illumination. The ramps themselves will see a facelift as will the sound system and renovations to the lower level restrooms.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

why were the Victoria Pool fundraisers stopped by Parks after 2 yrs.?

Parks asked to trim budgets
By ANN MARIE FRENCH , The Saratogian

A Saratoga Spa State Park groundskeeper mows the grass near the Lincoln Baths.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - The Saratoga-Capital District region of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has been asked to trim an additional 7 percent from its current budget in addition to the 3 percent the governor had asked of all departments.

Alane Chinian, the regional director, said all 11 regions have been asked to trim their costs in this year's budget even as they are submitting their proposed 2009-2010 budgets. The announcement came Wednesday morning at the quarterly meeting of the Saratoga-Capital District State Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commission. The commission voted to approve the proposed $9.9 million state operations budget request presented by Chinian.


"There are no capital costs in this budget. This is purely just trying to keep the doors open," said Heather Mabee, chairperson of the commission. The operational budget does not provide money for building renovations or expansion of services. Ten parks and seven historic sites are located within the region, which includes all of Saratoga County and all or part of seven other counties.

To develop the proposed budget, Chinian said the group did what it has always done - use the current fiscal year base and add in fixed cost increases and contractual increases.

The current fiscal year base is $9,452,600 and Chinian said the figure includes the 3 percent in cuts already completed. It does not, however, reflect the additional 7 percent of cuts the region is currently making.

"It has really been hurting us," said Chinian. She said many of the cuts are coming from not replacing people who are retiring or leaving their positions. The decision not to fill vacant positions is not one Chinian made voluntarily but is a result of a statewide hiring freeze, which went into effect over the summer. To make the necessary cuts, Chinian said other changes will take place.

"There will be more people let go," she said. "Temporary and seasonal staff will be let go early."

While the discussion of closing some of the parks in the region was broached, Chinian said to do so may prove to be more expensive than keeping them open. Currently, a number of park managers are responsible for the operation of multiple parks and in some cases there is no other staff in place to do the work if those managers were to retire or move into other positions.

"I think the big fear is there is a perception we're fat," Chinian said. "We've been operating a lean budget for years. There is going to be an impact."

The chairpersons of each region met in July and one topic of discussion centered on private fundraising for the state park system in anticipation of limited funding from the state. Mabee said the state has never utilized private fundraising but acknowledged that many of the regions have volunteer, non-profit programs they are affiliated with that do seek out private funding.

"We just have so much in our capital budget needs," she said. "There is $700 million across the state that needs to be done today."

While talks of fundraising are in their infant stages, she said the statewide initiative would be executed on a regional level. More information is expected at the commission's December or March meetings.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pool rehabilitation 2004-5

Lots of recent comments do not acknowledge the reason Save the Victoria Pool Society was formed in 2003 following ten years of trying to work with NYS Parks to no avail as the pool and park deteriorated at an increasingly alarming rate.