Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reason for massacre of trees in Park revealed!

Publication:Schenectady Daily Gazette;
Date:Mar 25, 2009;
Cutting preps for tee time
Firm removes vegetation on park golf course
BY LEE COLEMAN Gazette Reporter More than $100,000 in tree and vegetation removal work has been done this winter on the championship 18-hole golf course at the Saratoga Spa State Park. But the money isn’t coming from state coffers. Tree removals on the 10th, 15th, 16th and 17th fairways on the state park course were done in February and earlier this month to open up heavily shaded areas and improve turf quality, according to Alane Ball Chinian, administrator of the Saratoga-Capital District Region of the state Offi ce of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Chinian stressed that the money is not coming from the state parks office but from Professional Golf Services Inc. of Saratoga Springs. The principal of this firm is golf professional William Richardson of Loudonville, who was awarded a 20-year contract to operate the two Saratoga Spa State Park golf courses in 2002. The tree removal work is the first phase of a multi-year, $3 million-plus investment Professional Golf Services is making on the well-regarded state park courses. “The trees had gotten too big,” Chinian said about what were mainly pine trees. She said the state parks offi ce had a natural resource manager check the trees earmarked to be removed to make sure that they did not have any special importance to the state park. The goal of the project is to increase sunlight and air movement in a number of densely-vegetated areas of the course. A statement about the project says that the tree and vegetation removals will “improve turf quality, playing conditions and the visual appearance of the course.” Professional Golf Services Inc. hired Scott Lawn Yard of Sanborn to complete the $100,600 project. The contract includes complete restoration of the areas where the trees and other vegetation were removed. This work will be done in April and May. “Vegetation removal took place in late February and March in an effort to limit the amount of disturbance to the frozen ground and cause the least disruption to the normal use of the park,” according to a joint statement from Professional Golf Services Inc. and the state parks office. Future projects being planned by Professional Golf Services include upgrades to the course irrigation systems, bunker restoration, drainage work and cart path work. “We hope and expect that the next phase of investment will began this fall,” said Richardson, president of Professional Golf Services. Richardson said that the tree and vegetation removal project follows the recommendations of a March 2006 report from the United States Golf Association after representatives of the USGA visited the state park to assess the course and how it could be improved. In March 2002, Professional Golf Services Inc. and the state Offi ce of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation signed a 20-year agreement that has Richardson’s company running the park’s two golf courses — the 18-hole championship course and the nine-hole executive course — as well as operating the golf pro shop and associated concessions. In return, Richardson’s firm is investing more than $3 million in course improvements and pays the state a percentage of gross receipts from the golf courses. “This course is unique, affordable and a historic part of the Spa experience,” Chinian said. “We are grateful that our private partner can continue to invest in the maintenance of this great golf course.” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
print story back
The piper comes calling for our great parks system

By FRED LEBRUN Click byline for more stories by writer. First published: Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Of all the recreational services and venues the state provides, the one that touches more of us than any other is our terrific park system.
Last year, our 178 state parks and 35 historic sites had 55.7 million visitors. Most of those visitors were New Yorkers loving New York.
And according to a study by the University of Massachusetts commissioned by advocacy group Parks and Trails New York, all that traffic generated $1.94 billion spent right here at home, mostly going to private businesses close to the parks, and supported 20,000 jobs. For every dollar we spent on the park system, we got $5.50 back. That's a pretty good return.
Just think of the quality-of-life assets we have locally in Thacher up in the Helderbergs, Grafton on the Rensselaer plateau and, of course, the queen of them all, Saratoga Spa.
And also think the unthinkable, of what it would be like without them, because our state parks are in trouble.
Not imperiled, or about to close. But troubled, badly in need of continued capital improvements to stave off disaster over time. Some parks have outdated and inadequate electrical systems, or out-of-compliance septic and sewer systems, or approach roads that are crumbling, or landfills that need closing, or unsafe dams that need replacing. The list of needs is as long as the state.
One prime example of how badly out of whack the parks system is relates to the extremely popular Harriman State Park in Rockland and Orange counties. This park is one of the great breaths of fresh air for millions of downstaters and serves as a summer camp experience for many New York City kids.
Drinking water for the group camps at Harriman has to be brought in by tank car because there isn't enough money to fix and upgrade the existing piping system.
During the 12 years of the Pataki administration, great gains were made in acquiring new parks, but funding for capital improvements and maintenance costs did not keep up with acquisitions. Now the piper is at the door and he's tapping his foot.
When Carol Ash became commissioner of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation with the arrival of the Spitzer administration, an astounding $650 million to $750 million in needed capital repairs were identified. Parks got a good start last year with an infusion of $132 million to begin addressing the worst of it, notes Timothy Sweeney of Parks and Trails. More than $75 million of that came courtesy of state-issued bonds approved by the Legislature, an appropriate use of long term financing.
Which brings us to the uncomfortable place we're at this year.
Governor Paterson's proposed budget included $19 million each for Parks and the Department of Environmental Conservation for capital improvements, with the funds coming from the Environmental Protection Fund. But the Legislature is disinclined to use the embattled EPF for this purpose, having other uses for those revenues. There's a battle royale, in fact, shaping up over attempts to extract all manner of stewardship funds from the EPF. But that's another story.
Still, this leaves critically needed funding for capital improvements in our park system in limbo.
Not that the Legislature is about to leave our beloved parks system high and dry, but the alarm needs to be sounded anyway. A figure being buzzed by some in the Legislature is $40 million in state bonding for parks in the budget.
Bonding is the way to go, more reliable than depending on plummeting state revenues.
Commissioner Ash says she has $100 million in shovel-ready projects, so the $40 million will be put to immediate use.
You'd think the $26.1 billion federal stimulus package for New York would be just the perfect bank for parks rehab money.
But Ash says there isn't a dime for state parks in the stimulus package.
Capital improvements are one thing, the operating budget another entirely. There isn't enough money there, either, but that's the economic reality of the moment. We got a taste of where that's going with the partial closure of the Schodack park for the winter and the use of volunteers to keep it limping along.
"We are not going to close any park completely," says the commissioner.
Instead, the length of upcoming season may be shortened, and so may operating hours. And yes, some fees are bound to go up. Not the entrance fees, but camping permits will rise from $13 to $15, for example.
"We trying to limit the impact as much as we can. We realize the huge amount of happiness our parks bring," says Ash.
Right she is, and this is no time to pull the plug on that.
Fred LeBrun can be reached at 454-5453 or by e-mail at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Louise you crazy goose! Your heading makes it sound like there was blood and a pile of bodies everywhere. Massacre! You love to "fudge" everything don't you???