Spa State Park cuts mowing to save on fuel, labor
Critics blasts decision to let some acres go wild
By DENNIS YUSKO, Staff writer
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Last updated: 11:15 a.m., Wednesday, May 21, 2008
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The Saratoga Spa State Park's manicured lawns are the latest casualty of sky-high fuel prices.
To save money on gas, the state will allow parts of the park to grow wild this year.
Under a new initiative also designed to save on labor and cut emissions, 11 1/2 acres of lawns at the park will be allowed to become meadows, Park Manager Michael Greenslate said.
Areas along the road connecting routes 9 and 50, a grassy acre or so located across Route 9 from the Lincoln Bath House and other low-use spots will go uncut, he said.
Reducing mowing will cut down on fuel and maintenance costs, and is a smart environmental move, park officials said. Mowing reductions may be introduced at some of the other 177 state parks, too.
``While there is no official statewide policy per se, we are always looking at ways to improve our efficiency and sustainability,'' said Eileen Larrabee, communications director for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The 2,200-acre Saratoga Spa State Park is distinguished by its classical architecture, entertainment venues, pine forest and natural geysers. It is listed as a National Historic Landmark, and locals are famously protective of it.
In an interview this week, Louise Goldstein, co-founder of a group that worked to keep the park's Victoria Pool open, called the decision to cease mowing ``ridiculous.'' The park and some of its buildings already are ``in a horribly deteriorated state,'' she said.
Save the Victoria Pool Society members will gather at 5 p.m. Saturday on Broadway near City Hall to push the state to open the stately pool prior to this year's first day, June 28, Goldstein said.
Park officials volunteered information about the changes in grass cutting because they wanted the public to know that they are not neglecting lawns, but making positive environmental adjustments, said Alli Schweizer, park naturalist.
``I think people might be surprised how beautiful the fields will look when they come back to their natural state,'' she said.
Last week, the state committed $5.2 million to the park, which will build a new facade for the Saratoga Performing Arts amphitheater, renovate picnic and parking areas, repair the Peerless Pool and more.
Greenslate could not say how much money the mowing initiative would save. The park's staff of 12 groundspeople, plus seasonal workers in the summer, will be free to work on other projects, he said. The 11.5 uncut acres will be mowed once at the end of the season, he said.
The Victoria Pool is opening the same date as all state pools, Greenslate said. The date has been pushed back a few days because school schedules are running later this year, he said.
All Times Union materials copyright 1996-2008, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation, Albany, N.Y.
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