Thursday, May 15, 2008

SPAC to get new facade in the fall

SPAC to get new facade $2.5M renovation includes sound system, lighting

Undulating sand-colored waves cover the outside of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center amphitheater in a design revealed on Wednesday.
Construction on the $2.5 million facade renovation is scheduled to begin this October after the 2008 SPAC season ends and be finished by next May before the new season.
The renovation designed by Saratoga Associates is expected to go out to bid in about a month. Under the plan, the deteriorating 43-year-old wooden siding would be replaced with a new facade made of recycled paper and forest products. New lighting and sound systems also would be added.
That means people on the lawn won’t be able to see big black speakers anymore, said Bob Bristol, chief executive officer of Saratoga Associates. And new fiber-optic lights directed at the floors and exits will light the way without blinding SPAC patrons, he added.
“The light that you see is going to be remarkably impressive,” said SPAC Chairman William Dake.
The lights are energy-efficient and will reduce light pollution in Saratoga Spa State Park, he added. The SPAC renovation is one of a slate of state park projects this year that include $1.5 million to renovate six restrooms in picnic areas, $625,000 to repave roads and parking lots, $263,000 for bike and pedestrian improvements, $169,000 to repaint and fix concrete at Peerless Pool and $147,000 to remove asbestos at Spa Little Theater.
State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R- Brunswick, said that it’s money well-spent. “This is a priority.”
The money for the project was provided in a $132 million package for the state park system in Gov. David Paterson’s budget that was approved by the state Legislature, said Carol Ash, state parks commissioner. In all, the park system needs $650 million to bring its facilities up to snuff, Ash said.
Bruno noted that he and the new governor are big supporters of the state parks, adding he’s enjoying working with Paterson. “It’s like a honeymoon,” Bruno said. “It’s almost indecent, we’re getting along so well.”
Since 2005, the state has pumped nearly $7 million into SPAC’s facilities, including padded seats, a new roof and a better backstage to the amphitheater.
The latest renovation sketch was unveiled Wednesday as part of SPAC’s annual meeting at the Hall of Springs in Congress Park.
The amphitheater renovation will be a “green” building, Bristol said. It’s the second such environmentally friendly building Saratoga Associates has designed for SPAC.
The box office was designed in 1973 partially underground to shield it from public view. As an unintentional result, it stays cool without air conditioning, Bristol said.
“Where it was situated, the back end of the building would have been visible,” he said.
SPAC’s new marketing initiatives this year include a redesigned Web site and “previews” of future acts that will be played during performance intermissions and on video screens downtown. “The idea is that people have a better idea of what the performance is about,” Dake said.
SPAC officials also are marketing the center, with music, the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra, as a close-to-home option for summer fun that won’t require paying the high price of gas to get out of town.
The performing arts center enjoyed $2.9 million in total ticket sales last year compared to $2.6 million in 2006. In all, it had $3.4 million operating income, $4.4 million in contribution income and $7.7 million in expenses.
“This marks the third year in a row that SPAC has operated in the black,” said board member Arthur Roth.
It even has almost a $150,000 surplus from last year.
Other announcements Wednesday include:
Sonny and Julie Bonacio will serve as honorary chairs of the Saratoga Wine and Food Festival with co-chairs Jasper and Beth Alexander.
“West Side Story” star Rita Moreno will be the chairwoman of the New York City Ballet gala on July 19.
Heather Mabee, chairwoman of the Saratoga-Capital District region of the state Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commission, and Susan Phillips Read, associate judge of the state Court of Appeals, were elected as new SPAC board members.

An artist’s rendering shows the planned facade face-lift for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center amphitheatre.

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