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

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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. "

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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.