Thursday, February 26, 2009

Modern Dance at SPAC amphitheater instead of New York City Ballet is Not a good idea.

Fans react to SPAC’s modern dance

Thursday, February 26, 2009 5:17 AM EST

By PAUL POST, The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Modern dance is a welcome addition, but Saratoga Performing Arts Center should find other ways to strengthen its summer program, too, dance enthusiasts said Wednesday.

SPAC will host Mark Morris Dance Group on July 20 and 21 and Paul Taylor Dance Company on June 11 to fill the void from New York City Ballet’s shortened season, down from three weeks to two.

"These are two very important dance companies," said Denise Warner Limoli, a Skidmore College associate professor of dance. "It’s good to know SPAC is branching out. If you’re going to bring it, it’s good to draw from the top of the list."

The Morris group will have three performances, two evenings and one matinee, after city ballet’s two-week residency concludes. But it’s only two days.

"That’s awkward," Warner Limoli said. "It’s important that the public knows SPAC is committed to dance. I’d love to see them fill the schedule. Two-and-a-half weeks is less than three."

She said SPAC should try to get another ballet company to supplement New York City Ballet, even if it’s for a limited engagement or with a smaller number of dancers. She previously danced with American Ballet Theater, also based in New York.

"It would be spectacular," she said. "They’ve got some of the best dancers in the world. A small group of them is nothing to sneeze at."

Morris and Taylor have both visited Skidmore before and have performed at the Spa Little Theater. This will be their first time at SPAC’s amphitheater.

"It’s marvelous to have the opportunity to present modern dance on the main stage," said Mary DiSanto-Rose, Skidmore’s dance department chair. "I like the diversity. I hope they (SPAC) offer even more."

She expressed concern, however, that the 5,000-seat amphitheater might be overwhelming, because a crowd of 1,000 is considered good for a typical modern dance performance.

DiSanto-Rose said she doesn’t think two ballet companies, city ballet plus another, would pose a conflict at all. With proper planning, fans could spend several days in Saratoga Springs, watching one company perform and then the other.

"I don’t think one would take away from the other," she said. "It makes a nice package."

City ballet and SPAC reached a mutual agreement for a shortened 2009 season. SPAC typically lost about $1 million per year during the ballet’s three-week season. Likewise, the ballet is facing a $5.5 million deficit this season and announced recently that 11 dancers’ contracts won’t be renewed next year.

Avid ballet fan Louise Goldstein of Saratoga Springs said she’s disappointed about the reduced number of performances overall.

"Instead of another week of dance, it’s going to be two nights and one matinee," she said. "What’s going to happen on those other nights in July? It’s a loss for SPAC in a year when we should be trying to attract all the tourists we can. I have nothing against modern dance. I think they should be in the Little Theater. I hope the house sells out, but I would be shocked."

Spa City resident John DeMarco said, "I would prefer to have a three-week ballet season, but I understand the circumstances in this economy."

SPAC needs to grow beyond regional marketing and try to sell itself internationally, such as the famed Spoleto Music Festival in Italy, he said, perhaps partnering with other venues such as Tanglewood.

"You’ve got to advertise in Europe," he said. "It would be expensive. But then people would come from all over. That would draw the numbers."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Roosevelt Baths debacle to continue

We understand that only one or two out of four of the baths at Roosevelt Baths with redone pipes is often operational even though a great deal of money has been spent on this already. More information on this latest mess will be posted soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

$300,000 of your tax dollars going down the drain at the Roosevelt Baths.

Rumor has it $300,000 of our money has been poured down the drain into the tubs at the Roosevelt Baths and they are not all being used. Seems to us letting children use the water slide and zero depth pool at the Peerless Pool and the beach at Moreau 7 days a week should be a higher priority. Not raising the fee to swim at Victoria Pool from $6 to $8 should also be a better way to spend our money.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saratoga State Park cutting back on beach at Moreau and Peerless Pool but has money to cut down more wonderful trees and hire a Park naturalist?

Saturday, February 14, 2009 5:16 AM EST
By PAUL POST, The Saratogian

MOREAU —Local moms are concerned about possible cutbacks at Moreau Lake State Park’s swimming beach this summer.

Parks officials are considering a proposal to keep the beach closed Thursdays and Fridays to save money in the midst of a state fiscal crisis.

The move would reduce the amount of funding needed for lifeguards.

“The agency is re-evaluating our schedule in light of these difficult economic times we’re in,” said assistant director for the Saratoga-Capital Region Robert Kuhn. “Everything is under consideration.

“No decisions have been made.”

But a fact sheet distributed by the state sounds more definite.

Amy Cantor, owner of Omelette King Catering in Saratoga Springs, learned about the possible beach cutbacks when responding to an advertisement seeking bids for park concessions.

She was sent a packet of information.

“Prospective bidders are advised that current operations for 2009 include a reduced schedule for the swimming beach at Moreau Lake,” the state said. “The beach is expected to be closed on Thursdays and Fridays throughout the summer.”

The state is facing a possible $1 billion deficit this year and Gov. David Paterson has called on all state agencies to make reductions wherever possible. Cantor said the possibility of reduced Moreau Lake scheduling is an unwelcome development.

“It’s terrible news just from a personal standpoint,” she said. “I take my son there all the time. There’s the pool at Spa State Park, but there’s no place as fun and so close as Moreau Lake. It’s the only place to go.

“The court of public opinion should weigh pretty heavily here.”

Cantor said she has several friends with young children who frequent the park regularly.

The Saratoga-Capital Region consists of 10 state parks and 10 historic sites. In December, parks officials reported that shorter seasons, reduced hours and staff cuts were among possible cost-saving measures.

In addition, state parks gets most of its revenue from golf, camping and vehicle use fees, which might all be going up.

Regional Director Alane Ball Chinian has already said that parks will do less lawn mowing in 2009 to save on fuel, labor and equipment maintenance costs.

The following are comments from the readers. In no way do they represent the view of

Teresa wrote on Feb 14, 2009 6:25 AM:

" I bring my children there a lot over the summer and go camping there each summer. What do they plan on doing for the individuals camping there that look forward to walking to the beach each day? This is a real bad idea. I think they ought to cut staff and pay rates not take away from the people. "

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anna wrote on Feb 14, 2009 7:19 AM:

" Closing the Moreau beach two days a week seems really where else are we to go? Does that mean seniors can use the park free on weekends. This is really the only summer pleasure I know...Please do not limit. "

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mallory wrote on Feb 14, 2009 7:32 AM:

" seems to be alot of the beach goers at Moreau do NOT seem to be wealthy. This beach is most important to local families. Cut back in area where people can afford alternative recreatiion.
We NEED this beach all summer..every day. "

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modest income person wrote on Feb 14, 2009 7:36 AM:

" consider closing cement pools but keep the natural beach open every day. "

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ANN GREGG wrote on Feb 14, 2009 7:40 AM:

" There is not many places where a family can go anymore that doesn't cost a lot of money. A lot of towns don't have public pools and some families just can't afford to have a pool in their yard so where else do they go but to the beach. Closing on a thursday / friday is crazy. When do families go camping. End of the week, right? So this means on long weekends. So if a family goes camping on a thursday in the summer they can't go swimming till saturday. What kind of a impact will this have on the campgrounds or the picinic grounds that the people come in to use. This could result in tragedies of maybe sneaking into the lake swimming without lifeguards or will it be posted on thursdays and fridays as a swim at own risk. At least this way a parent could be responsible for their children. "

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carole ann wrote on Feb 14, 2009 8:13 AM:

" how much pay do lifeguards earn? perhaps that could be posted and maybe some of our local busineses would be willing to chip in for the pay "

Friday, February 13, 2009

Saratoga Spa State Park officials show contempt to the tax-paying dog lovers who pay for the 2500 acres of the Park.

Butterflies may oust canines from select state park space
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A sign in the dog park indicates the presence of Karner Blue Butterflies. (RICK GARGIULO/The Saratogian)

Friday, February 13, 2009 11:33 AM EST
By ANDREW J. BERNSTEIN, The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A proactive approach to resource management in Spa State Park will help create a better habitat for Karner Blue Butterflies, but it might come at some cost to dog owners.

In an effort to better manage natural resources in the park, there will be changes to the landscaping in a parcel on the corner of South Broadway and Crescent Ave, said Alane Ball-Chinian, regional director with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation .

“Commissioner Ash planned a new emphasis on management of resources that are under the stewardship of the Park’s Department,” she said. “She helped get us some staff, so we now have a natural resources person on staff.”

Following the recommendations of the park’s new staff member, the park will make changes along the parcel’s eastern edge, which is out of view from South Broadway.

New landscaping will involve removing some trees and existing topsoil to provide a better growing environment for Wild Blue Lupin, a butterfly-friendly plant. The topsoil will be used to create berms.

“We’re going to reorient the trail system, so that people can walk through there, but there will be a better delineation between where people can walk and the habitat,” she said. “It’ll almost be like a viewing area.”

The parcel in question is currently the site of a popular dog park, where canines are allowed to wander off-leash.

Chinian said the future of the dog park is being contemplated under the park’s master plan, which will be available for public review and comment some time later this spring.

“Changes in that area have nothing to do with development of the master plan. This is driven by our desire to take care of an endangered species,” she said.

While she declined to discuss any specifics in the master plan, she did say that an area for dogs to walk off-leash would be included.

This should allay the concerns of some dog park users, who worry that there are few places where dogs are allowed to be off-leash.

“We all feel that why can’t we come to the middle of the road here. This area, half of it could be strictly just for butterflies. The dogs that go there and their owners are very responsible, the dogs get along well and are happy to be off leashes,” said Sue Sporko, who visits the park regularly with her two dogs, a golden retriever and an American Eskimo.

“It’s a nice interaction to be able to walk through a part of the woods a little bit. It makes them happier pets and when you socialize them like that, they behave better and don’t bite,” Sporko said.

Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Finance Kenneth Ivins Jr., who also regularly visits the park with his dog and who held a meeting in the spring to discuss the proposed plans for the park, said he hadn’t yet been made privy to any firm plans for the park, other than that some portion would be retained for the butterflies.

“At least it’s a compromise, instead of kicking us out. At least we have an area for dogs,” he said.

Poll question: What do you think of the proposed plans to remake the landscape in Spa State Park to be more habitable to Blue Karner butterflies? To answer, go to and look for the poll in the left column.

The following are comments from the readers. In no way do they represent the view of

Suzanne wrote on Feb 13, 2009 8:50 AM:

" I have owned dogs my entire life and not one has eaten or even disturbed a butterfly! Come on - I think the city of Saratoga is ust going too far if they eliminate dogs from the park because of some insect (yes, a buttlefly is still an insect). What is next - elimination of cats if they find a spotted owl? Good luck with that! "

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Dog Lover wrote on Feb 13, 2009 9:31 AM:

" I really hope the new area for dogs includes a fence. Otherwise don't even bother. "

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Matt wrote on Feb 13, 2009 10:21 AM:

" I support the proactivity of the State Park. I am proud to live in an area that tries hard to balance development, open space and, in this case, endangered species protection.

And in response to Suzanne, the city has nothing to do with this decision. This is state park land, paid for by you an I and given the mandate to protect land, and provide recreation opportunities - not so much to build free dog parks. "

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Xtraspatial wrote on Feb 13, 2009 10:58 AM:

" I think the parcel is on the SE corner of Crescent St and South Broadway, not Circular.

Also, Regional Park director's name is Alane Ball Chinian. "

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Web editor wrote on Feb 13, 2009 11:34 AM:

" Right you are on both counts, Xtraspatial. They have been corrected above. Thanks for pointing out the errors. "

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Bassman wrote on Feb 13, 2009 12:41 PM:

" Sue-zanne: GI Rights, Lake Rights, Dog Rights? It's NYS Land. Go Sue the State. "

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Don wrote on Feb 13, 2009 1:38 PM:

" Has there ever been a carner blue butterfly sighting in the last century and a half? All this creature has done is kill many projects due to its alleged existence. "

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Muddy Boots wrote on Feb 13, 2009 2:13 PM:

" Don,

There is an axiom in wildlife biology: "An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Your position has been used to downplay the existence of Canada Lynx in Colorado.

Karner Blues have been sighted in the past, their habitat and lifecycle is well-documented, and from this information, there are logical places to protect if we deem such protection a worthwhile proposition (which, apparently, you do not). Karner Blues had a viable population in the Pine Bush that extended for thousands of acres in the mid-Hudson prior to accelerated development without knowledge of consequences.

Perhaps you are right: in our rush to develop the area for our own thneeds, we've probably destroyed all potentially suitable habitat for the Karner Blue butterfly. Who or what is to be lost next? the Bald Eagle (threatend in NYS), the Cougar (endangered in NYS), fresh water, ecosystem services, clean air?

Suzanne, while you are correct that the K B Butterfly is an insect, it plays an important part in the interconnected "web of life" where no species exists in isolation from its community. Too often reductionists ignore the inter-species interactions to the peril of so-called nuisance species. Exterminate the pest and endanger its predator. "

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Dale Ordes wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:15 PM:

" According to Muddy Boots above, lack of evidence is not evidence of lack of existence. I suppose that means that dragons are might still be lurking in Saratoga Park, even though they haven't been seen in quite a while.

Don above questions how many Karner Blues have been seen. Based on my daily observation, the answer is: not many. Someone should make a cost-benefit analysis of tieing up hundreds of acres of public land in the unlikely hope of possibly seeing one or two Karner Blues in a season. In 15 years of dog walking there, I have seen exactly two of the little blue creatures, but I have seen hundreds of happy dogs and their owners, most of whom (the owners) pay taxes, both local and State.

To answer Matt above, this is not a "free" dog park. Almost every dog walker has already paid for it through taxes.

Ever notice how "preservation" of our public lands initially calls for the destruction of those lands? The "improvers" will cut down more trees and scrape off the top soil in order to plant the lupine which the finicky Karner Blue uses as its almost sole source of nutrition. There currently are plowed and scraped fields located in the park left over from previous planting efforts. Nothing grows there.

One critical endangered specie in the Saratoga Springs area is the Tree. With any more "improvement" that cuts down trees, we will have to go to a Tree Museum just to see'um, as Joanie Mitchell once said.

We thankfully have new political administrations at all levels of government. One of the promises of of the new politicians is transparency in governmental operations. Well, actions about the dog park are shrouded in bureaucratic mystery. Open meetings were a joke, with most of the public's input being dismissed out of hand.
This new wave of government is supposed to reflect the will of those who are affected by governmental decisions. I challenge the parks administration to take a poll or have an election concerning use of the park lands in Saratoga Springs and just see what the public feels on this subject. Want to bet that the public prefers dogs to blue bugs?

The eco-fascists who are trying to expel our dogs from public land are quick to tell the rest of us what we should want and how we are supposed to behave. No one ever elected them for that task.

There is some Federal guilt money that underwrites the Karner Blue. The State parks administration wants this money -- public be damned. That little bit of Federal subsidy is not worth excluding the public from its own parks.

We need a true open and honest forum on how these park lands are to be used.

Dale "

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A.Walker wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:35 PM:

" I agree with the above writer - there is more to this than meets the eye... and it is probably money. The dogs and the butterflies have co- existed for many years and will probably continue to do so if left on their own.

The issue is not have to chose between endangered species or dogs - it is far more political than any of us has been told.

I thought that the State was having a financial crisis - don't they have really important things to do with the money that they do have?

A taxpayer "

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Huh wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:38 PM:

" The fact that they want to cut down trees and start modifying the environment to better suit the butterflies pretty much says it all. What an absolute joke. If the butterflies can't live there as it is then that should be their tough luck. To go and start cutting down trees and splitting the atom for them is about as dumb a plan as I have heard yet. If the place is so unsuitable for them then that might explain why their notable absence. 4 years of going there and zero sightings.
I wonder what Darwin would say about this butterfly. "

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Huh wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:41 PM:

" And what is it about dogs that the butterflies find so offensive? How come they can co-exist with deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, BIRDS and every other animal in the woods, but the mere sight of a dog sends them to their doom?

Maybe they should be relocated? You could employ a bunch of stoner college students to run around all summer with nets and round them up. "

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Jackson wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:48 PM:

" This should be provided by the City of Saratoga Springs. Plenty of municipalities have this. It is not the state that should provide it. This is land that is nice to walk on, has an endangered species using it and is natural area that is a buffer for the entry into town. If this is a dog park it will probably be fenced in and will look worse than it does now with the lawn torn up. Tell the city that they should build us a dog park not the state. "

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Huh wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:55 PM:

" "Adult Karner blues usually live about 5-7 days"
"Karner blues are small, with a wingspan of about one inch."
"Most Karner blues stay within about 200 meters of their home lupine patch."

So they live a week, have a wingspan of an inch, which explains why people without an electron microscope don't see them and are finicky eaters.
You know what would be a better use of tax payer dollars? NOT WASTING MONEY ON THESE THINGS!

"Most Karner blues stay within about 200 meters of their home lupine patch."

Which means the home they have is where they live. Now they want to cut down a section of the woods and try and create another suitable growing area for the butterflies. What if they don't move there? Nature has a way of being able to identify real from man made.

You know what folks? Given the economic situation we are in I think the butterfly ranks somewhere around dead last for any tax payer dollars, whether it be from state, federal or local sources.

This is so ridiculous. "

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z wrote on Feb 13, 2009 6:13 PM:

" Please save our butterflys!!!!!!! "

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Saratoga-Capital District region Park lowers its entry fee

We understand that Mine Kill NYS Park has lowered its entry fee to $3 from $6 to enter the park and assume Saratoga Spa State Park will also lower its fee since it is in the same region--Saratoga-Capital District. The swimming Pool at Mine Kill charges $3 for admission and we hope the Victoria and Peerless Pool will be charging the same.

Mine Kill NYS Park lowers Park entry fee to $3

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Stop the nonsense and get a grip, folks!

Lately some of the comments on this blog have gotten so silly it is ridiculous. Save the Victoria Pool Society is a grass-roots group of very ordinary hard-working and lately unemployed people in some cases. In these tough economic times our only agenda as always is to preserve and maintain the most beautiful swimming pool and NYS park in America, Victoria Pool and Saratoga Spa State Park. This is a public park paid for with our hard-earned tax-dollars. With the help of the public and the Press, Save the Victoria Pool Society was able to get State and Federal Officials to agree to rehabilitate the Victoria Pool from certain demise in 2003. Thanks to great support from the entire upstate region and beyond the Victoria Pool obtained $1.5 million of our(public) money to preserve it in 2003. All we want is to have the Victoria Pool opened for a reasonable amount of the summer, June, July and August at a price people can afford, $6, since we all pay already for Saratoga Spa State Park. Millions of dollars of our public money have also been poured into the Peerless Pool to build a water slide and repair it recently and it would be disastrous to close the Peerless two days a wk.
We have no political or financial aspirations and our only concern is to enhance the quality of life in upstate NY where no other State pool exists within 100+miles.
The distracting comments on this blog only make those that write them appear idiotic.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Yet another historic treasure long ignored by Saratoga Spa State Park

Rotting in the park
Updated: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 1:22 AM EST

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SARATOGA SPRINGS - The snow-white paint is falling, flake by flake, from the facade, exposing the gray hue of worn wood beneath.

Windows devoid of glass panes are either covered in thin sheets of plywood or have become a point of entry for vines and animals.

Small overhangs above the doors sag, standing only with the assistance of a pair of two-by-fours used as makeshift props.

Inside, the smell of dust and mold is pervasive. Wallpaper is peeling from the drywall, and nothing more than a mustard yellow oven and a small potted plant on a haphazard shelf can be found.

This is the collective aesthetic of the single-story home situated between the Saratoga Tree Nursery's fields and the third hole of the Saratoga Spa State Park's golf course.

Unless state officials alter course, the picture is likely to get worse.

Vacant for more than three decades, the state has tried and failed over the years to solicit private investment in the structure. They've also considered demolition and, now, say they've got no plans for the building whatsoever.

"Even demolition is expensive, so it still just sits there waiting for an answer," said Robert Kuhn, the assistant regional director for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The building does have its share of history, though.

According to documents provided by the Library of Congress, the one-story structure was built sometime around 1835 by Charles Patrick, who used it as the centerpiece of his 150-acre farmstead.

At that time, the surrounding Saratoga Spa State Park had not been developed.

Diana Armstrong's grandparents, Daniel and Norah Ronan, and her mother, Florence, lived in the building during the early 1900s and farmed the surrounding area. The house then was split into a duplex and was shared by two school teachers, Armstrong said.

She said she has never been in the house but has visited to take pictures in recent years.

"Whenever I drive down South Broadway, I always look down between the trees to see if it's still there," she said.

In 1928, as efforts to expand the park were underway, the state assumed ownership of the building.

It was used to house managers for the tree nursery until 1976, when the final occupant, Hank LaTour, died and his family moved out.

Robert Macica, who lived in a nearby house that the state eventually took through eminent domain, said he worked for LaTour but never had the chance to enter the house.

"It was well maintained, but it looked old even then," he said.

Efforts to find an alternative use for the building have thusfar been unsuccessful.

In 1997, state officials attempted to attract developers who would build a golf course on land adjacent to the park and included a 20-year lease for the house in the deal.

But its awkward placement -- the building can't be reached by road -- spoiled any chance of its potential revitalization.

Defeated, state officials suggested several years ago that it be torn down, a proposal that never came to fruition. The suggestion was made again last year, but it was put off again because of the state budget crunch, officials said.

Now, Alane Ball Chinian, the parks department's regional director, said she'd like to see something done with the building.

"It needs to be preserved and re-purposed," she said. "It's a historic building without a use."

But Dan Keefe, a spokesman for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said there are no plans to do anything with the house.

Officials are creating a master plan for the entire state park now, and ideas for the building could be included in that document, Keefe said.

The plan may also propose new uses for other, smaller abandoned structures in the park, as well as the now-vacant Roosevelt bathhouse.