Thursday, January 17, 2008
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Botanical garden proposed
Glass conservatory could grace Saratoga Spa State Park grounds
By ANDREW BERNSTEIN, The Saratogian
The Palm House, one of several greenhouses at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, is similar to the glass conservatory which would be part of a plan to bring a botanical garden to Saratoga Spa State Park. (Photo provided)
SARATOGA SPRINGS — From a world-class concert venue to the racetrack and natural springs, the Spa City has a lot to offer visitors. But what about a botanical garden?
That, too, could be added to the list of local attractions if a proposal made to Saratoga Spa State Park officials and other community leaders comes to fruition.
Brett Van Zandt, a Greenwich resident and administrator for not-for-profit organizations, is proposing a 40-acre garden that would include a glass-enclosed conservatory within walking distance of all the amenities of the state park. Van Zandt presented his idea to Saratoga Springs Rotary Club members earlier this month.
The project has been named “The Springs Botanical Garden.”
“The more people I talk to in the public, the more interested people become — on an organizational level, and even on a personal level,” Van Zandt said of the project’s momentum.
Van Zandt touts the value of a botanical garden as a family attraction and said the inspiration for the project came when he and his wife were talking about starting a family. “Being that we’re avid gardeners, we were talking about places we would take the kids, and we said we’d figure out where the botanical garden was, and take them there. Then we realized there wasn’t one in the area,” he said.
According to a Web site for the project, the gardens would incorporate perennial, annual, Japanese, water, European and American-style landscapes.
Van Zandt said he chose Saratoga Springs as the project’s location for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, he said, the city’s history of supporting other cultural institutions drew him here.
“We didn’t first think of the park, but conversations with business owners pointed to Spa State Park. We made phone calls and made it happen,” he said.
With the location chosen, Van Zandt now hopes to incorporate the local landscape, including a wetland in the southern section of the park.
Michael Greenslade, manager of the Spa Sate Park, said Monday he had seen the proposal, and it would be considered as a part of the park’s master plan, which state park authorities will be creating during the next year.
“I looked at it and thought it might be a nice idea, but I don’t know where it would fit,” Greenslade said. “We do have a lot of acreage here in the park.”
Saratoga Spa State Park sits on 2,379 acres between Routes 9 and 50.
Greenslade said the master plan would include a complete overview of the park and its facilities, which will determine in what direction the state wants to take the park.
Seemingly undeterred by the possibility that his proposal might not be welcomed by the state parks department, Van Zandt has used the Web site dedicated to the project to discuss possible benefits to the region.
“It will provide the most beautiful and inspiring public gardens within a 60- to 80-mile radius,” the Web site reads.
For more information on the proposed garden, visit www.TheSpringsBotanicalGarden.org, or call 281-2152.
Reach Andrew Bernstein at email@example.com or 583-8729, ext. 219.
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