PLAN director gets parks post Alane Ball Chinian praised for work ‘on the front lines’
BY LEE COLEMAN Gazette Reporter
Alane Ball Chinian, currently director of Saratoga PLAN, was appointed Wednesday the new director of the Saratoga-Capital Region of the state park system.
Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature) is a nonprofit land trust organization that has protected more than 2,400 acres of open space in Saratoga County since its creation five years ago.
Chinian, whose office will be in the Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs, will fill the regional director position with the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation that has been vacant since the retirement of Warren Holliday in 2006.
Robert Kuhn, assistant regional director, had been acting regional director during this period.
“For decades, Alane Ball Chinian has been working on the front lines to build sustainable communities through her work improving public access to the outdoors, preserving irreplaceable natural assets and promoting livable neighborhoods,” said state parks Commissioner Carol Ash in a statement.
The Saratoga-Capital Region of the state park system includes the Saratoga Spa State Park and 11 other state parks such as Moreau Lake, Grafton Lake, John Boyd Thatcher, and Cherry Plain as well as numerous historic sites stretching from Crown Point in Essex County to the Schuyler Mansion in Albany. “Parks reached out to me in January,” Chinian said on Wednesday. “I worked with [commissioner] Carol Ash at The Nature Conservancy.” “I’m looking forward to it,” Chinian said about her new job. She will start with the state in the $88,443 position on March 20. “I feel good about where Saratoga PLAN is,” Chinian said. Chinian is the first director of Saratoga PLAN. She was also the director of its pre- decessor, the Saratoga Springs Open Space Project.
The Open Space Project merged with the Land Trust of the Saratoga Region in 2003 to form the Saratoga PLAN.
Laura Welles, Saratoga PLAN’s conservation program manager, will be acting director while a national search is conducted to fi nd a replacement for Chinian.
Julia Stokes, chairwoman of Saratoga PLAN’s board of directors, said an executive committee meeting was held Wednesday to start the director search.
Stokes said that advertisements for the position have already been posted on various national land trust and planning Web sites.
Stokes said her organization wants to receive resumes by the end of March and start interviewing candidates by mid-April.
“We are pleased for Alane,” Stokes said.
She said Chinian has taken Saratoga PLAN from a one-employee organization to one with a staff of four people, plus Chinian.
“She has brought the organization a long way,” Stokes said about Chinian. “We wish her all the best.”
Chinian, who lives in Cambridge, Washington County, with her family, said she is excited about working with the region’s state park system.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know these places,” she said.
Ash said, in announcing Chinian’s appointment, that she joins the agency at a time when Gov. Eliot Spitzer has proposed a major initiative to address decades of “under investment” in the state park system. This initiative includes $14.8 million to upgrade facilities in the Saratoga-Capital Region, Ash said.
Chinian has a master’s degree in environmental management and policy from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy and a bachelor’s in art history and anthropology from Hamilton College.
She has served in volunteer community roles with the Cambridge Village Planning Board, Friends of West Hoosick Hills, the Rensselaer-Taconic Land Conservancy and The Arts Center of the Capital Region.