Sunday, May 31, 2009

Save the Victoria Pool Society went public after many years of quietly meeting with NYS Park administrators.Victoria Pool was falling apart by 2003.

Some of your comments lead us to believe you do not understand what bad shape the Victoria Pool was in by 2003. For many years Save the Victoria Pool Society members quietly met with Saratoga Spa State Park administrators alarmed at the steady deterioration and nothing was done. We went public only after our pleas were ignored year after year.

Victoria Pool may open one week earlier,keep your fingers crossed folks.

Group pushes for early pool opening at Spa State Park
Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — State parks officials expect to open Victoria Pool on Saturday, June 27, but might opt for a week earlier if conditions permit.

However, that’s still not early enough for Save the Victoria Pool Society members, who gathered at the site recently to protest its scheduled opening.

The cash-strapped state could make money by opening the pool Memorial Day weekend or early June, society co-founder Louise Goldstein said. But parks officials say it takes at least five people to staff the pool, and if weather doesn’t cooperate, it actually loses money.

“It’s a balancing act,” said Robert Kuhn, assistant regional parks commissioner. “Monday (May 25) was a beautiful day. If people really wanted to go swimming, they could have gone to one of our beaches. We were almost turning people away at Moreau Lake State Park. At this point, the pool water is still so cold that most people don’t want to go in. You might get a few sunbathers. But if it’s cloudy and nobody shows up, you lose money.”

Moreau Lake’s beach stayed open throughout Memorial Day weekend because the park’s campgrounds were 98 percent full.

Staffing the pool requires three lifeguards, a certified pool operator and someone to take money. Pool fees are going up this year from $6 to $8 for adults. The cost for children is $4.

Several years ago, the state spent $1.5 million to upgrade Victoria Pool, located behind the Gideon Putnam Hotel & Resort. “It’s our (taxpayer) money they spent and it’s just sitting there,” Goldstein said. “People would rather go to a hotel that has a pool open.”

She said many people are taking vacations close to home this year, another reason the pool should open earlier.

“A third of our very short summer should not be denied state residents whose hard-earned money paid to save it,” Goldstein said.

The park’s Peerless Pool is also scheduled to open on Saturday, June 27. Kuhn said the pools might open a week earlier if lifeguards are trained, water quality is sufficient and the weather cooperates.

Goldstein also protested the increased pool fee, saying it’s coming at a time when people can least afford it.

Statewide, the parks department was hit hard by this year’s fiscal crisis and forced to scale back or close a variety of facilities. Both the Victoria and Peerless pools will close an hour earlier (6 p.m.) and Peerless Pool will be closed Tuesdays. Use was lightest on Tuesdays the past several years, Kuhn said.

Goldstein said Tuesday is the only day Saratoga Race Course workers can go to the pool, when the track is dark. Kuhn said most of the workers go to Victoria Pool anyway, to avoid large numbers of camp children at Peerless Pool.

To access Peerless Pool, visitors must go through one of Spa State Park’s admission booths and pay a $6 day-use fee. On top of that there’s a pool fee, $2 for adults and $1 for children.

Park visitors can get to Victoria Pool via Avenue of the Pines, which can be accessed without going through an admission booth.

Spa State Park pools

Victoria Pool

ä Fee — $8 adults, $4 children

Peerless Pool

ä Fee — $6 park day-use plus $2 adults, $1 children for pool use.

ä Opening — Saturday, June 27 (both pools). Possibly one week earlier if conditions permit.


© 2009, a Journal Register Property

Saturday, May 23, 2009

tree nursery still needs saving

Tree nursery’s fate uncertain
The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors threw their support behind the Saratoga Tree Nursery earlier this week.

The reason: state officials have indicated the nursery may be shuttered as a way to help close the budget gap. The 250-acre nursery, with a staff of ten, commands a budget of around $750,000 which is offset by $250,000 in revenue.

County officials, in their resolution, said state officials should address the nursery’s business plan to “make it more self supporting.” They also said buying trees from other sources will cost the state more than they can save by shutting down the operation.

The nursery, adjacent to Saratoga Spa State Park, once produced as many as 15 million seeds a year for reforestation efforts across the state. They now produce around 1.5 million seeds a year.

David Lee, the nursery manager, told the Post Star in January that the facility was being “strongly looked at” for closure. Today, he said it remains unclear if state officials will move to shut down the facility, which opened in 1902 and is the last remaining state-run nursery.

“At this point, we’re still operating as normal,” Lee said.

Photo: Forester Michael Echnter shows a button bush seed sample while technician Mike Svoboda takes a break from sorting seeds at nursery in January.

– Drew Kerr

post star

Sunday, May 17, 2009

this comment bears repeating to be sure that everyone sees it. We can only hope the powers-that-be will take a hint for the Victoria/Peerless Pools

George said...

BALLSTON SPA —Some good news for village kids: The public swimming pool in Kelley Park will open two weeks earlier this year, weather permitting, and fees will stay the same as last summer.

The pool is scheduled to open at noon June 13, with weekend hours and a shortened schedule on weekdays, trustee Donna Thomas told the Village Board Monday night. The hours will be “weather-driven. If it’s 60 degrees and there’s not anyone in the water,” the pool will close, she said.

Sign-ups for summer swimming lessons will be held from 9 a.m. to noon June 27 and 28. Information will be sent home from the schools and will be posted on village bulletin boards.

More than 500 children usually take lessons. Despite increased costs for payroll, chlorine and other pool expenses, fees won’t go up. “We‘d love to raise them,” said Thomas, but in today’s economy, rates will stay the same.

Two years ago, the board voted to increase the price for a seasonal pool pass from $25 to $35, but kept the daily pool rate of $2.

8:43 AM

Friday, May 15, 2009

We do not understand why the Victoria Pool cannot be opened for Memorial Day? It is filled and ready to go.

King of the Victoria Pool and Board Member, Stanton, enjoying being poolside. The pool is filled and just needs algae cleaned up on the bottom. It should be opened as soon as possible.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

SPAC losing members ever since benefits cut out 50% ticket discounts and NYCBallet cut to two weeks.

By PAUL POST, The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS —Byproducts of a negative economy include pent-up demand for entertainment and people taking closer-to-home vacations.

Saratoga Performing Arts Center is banking on such trends to produce positive results during a 2009 summer season that begins just nine days from now.

While touting SPAC’s relatively strong fiscal condition, officials Wednesday expressed concerned about the fate of New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra, both of which continue to suffer major attendance and financial losses.

"It’s critical that we go to these performances and get our friends to go," Treasurer Abe Lackman told the roughly 80 people gathered at SPAC’s annual membership meeting. "There is a trend here that is extremely worrisome."

Financial conditions have forced the ballet to cut its Saratoga residency from three to two weeks.

"The ballet loses over

$1 million when they’re up here," SPAC Chairman William Dake said. "It was their decision. They have such a serious financial position that they had to go ahead and cut it. I’m very concerned about the orchestra as well. They also have very severe financial difficulties."

Major banks and corporations that typically support the arts can no longer do so, at least not at past levels.

"History doesn’t mean much these days," Dake said. "We’re in a rapidly changing world."

The economy continues to impact all segments of the sports and entertainment industry almost daily. Major racetracks such as Churchill Downs and Del Mar have cut back their schedules, and empty seats at the new Yankee Stadium have been highly publicized since last month’s opening.

"NASCAR, the hottest thing in the world last year, is suffering these days," Dake said.

But he said SPAC’s location, population base and program flexibility puts it in a position to survive the current economic storm. Classical events have been expanded this year to include two modern dance companies. In the future, more such offerings or touring ballet companies might be added to complement New York City Ballet.

In addition, the annual Freihofer’s Jazz Festival along with pop and rock concerts help SPAC appeal to a variety of interest groups.

SPAC’s box office opened Sunday and preseason ticket sales, accounting for 20 percent of admissions revenue, appear strong, Chief Financial Officer Richard Geary said. "I think we’re going to be okay if we can get people to come this summer," he said.

The arts center realized its fourth straight year of finishing in the black in 2008. Signaling a mixed financial bag, however, Geary said 2009 memberships are 10 percent behind last year’s. SPAC expects to conduct a large direct-mail campaign soon to get more people on board.

"We really have to see, what does our audience want? How do we get it? And how do we get it for less?" SPAC President Marcia White said.

Four years ago, several parties made substantial multi-year gifts to SPAC, whose final installments are due this year. White said she continues to seek new private and business sponsorships. GlobalFoundries, the firm expected to build a computer chip plant in Malta, has already become a SPAC member and has expressed interest in further involvement, she said.

"On one hand we are in very, very good shape," Dake said. "On the other hand, it’s chaos out there. In these economic times you have to accept that everything’s on the table."

What SPAC did

Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s Board of Directors took action on the following items Wednesday at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Spa State Park.

ä Elected — Carol Farmer, new board member. Farmer is the wife of noted thoroughbred horse owner Tracy Farmer. The couple has a summer home in Saratoga Springs. She is a noted philanthropist and supporter of the University of Kentucky, is on the board of Kentucky Children’s Hospital and co-chairs the new Chandler Hospital’s Art Committee.

She serves on the boards of the National Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. It’s hoped that Farmer’s membership will encourage other horse owners to become involved with SPAC, President Marcia White said.

ä Officers — Made the following appointments for 2009/10 – Honorary Chair Marylou Whitney; Chairman William Dake; Vice Chairman E. Stewart Jones; Secretary Ed Lewi; Treasurer Abe Lackman; President Marcia White.

ä Re-elected — Matthew Bender, John Gilbert, George Hearst, Lawrence King, Eleanor Mullaney, John Nigro, Arthur Roth were re-elected to new three-year terms on the board.

ä Announced — New "Stay Green" recycling campaign. SPAC’s more than 300,000 visitors will be encouraged to place recyclables in bins

located at strategic points around the grounds. This includes 70 bins for beverages and cardboard bins for the thousands of boxes brought to SPAC by vendors and concessionaires.

Upcoming events

Several programs are planned this month as part of SPAC’s extended season. They are:

ä May 23 – Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem Alumni


ä May 29 – Rachael Price.

ä May 30 – Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz


ä For information call 584-9330 or see the Web site:

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

kaiser soze wrote on May 14, 2009 10:52 AM:


This will turn out to be SPAC’S worst season ever. Marcia J. White continues to run the organization for her own benefit. She renewed the give away contract with live nation continues to use Ticketmaster instead of her own box office there bye giving more of SPAC’S income to the corporate giant.
And when the dust is settled and SPAC is in ruins she will blame everyone one but herself.

This is a nursing shortage Marcia go do what you do best.
But then again nurses don’t make 120000 or have a Manhattan apartment or a free BMW "

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catdeli wrote on May 14, 2009 12:42 PM:

" I began attending SPAC in 1973 for rock concerts and it was the best place to see a show. The lawn on a nice Summer night can't be beat. I saw many memorable shows there over the years but the restrictive policies and police state mindset of the place has turned me off to ever going again. Overeager security and a "get 'em in and treat 'em like cattle" operating style has resulted in a totally unenjoyable experience. Now that I am older, I have no time for this kind of treatment after I have paid my money to have a night of entertainment. Last times I went to a show was several years ago when security walked the aisles constantly for no discernable reason other than to distract from the performers onstage. Searches at the gate included removal of hats! I was expecting to have to drop trou next. A catle pen "Beer Garden" is humiliating and a nuisance. Not being able to take even water or soda into the amphitheater seats is an outrageous policy. Contrast this senario with that of a recent visit to Proctor's in Schenectady where we were actively encouraged to enjoy our night out with little restrictive conditions and were treated like the responsible adults that we are by the courteous staff. We will certainly return THERE. SPAC is poisoning itself from within and blaming the Capital District. We stay away for good reason. "

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one eyed fatman wrote on May 14, 2009 1:47 PM:

" Spac just doesn’t get it. We just saw the Moscow ballet in Proctors and paid 36 dollars for a great seat with no hidden service fees or handling fees. Spac wants the Ballet to fail so there will be more dates open for Live{lice} nation along with more money for perks for Marcia.

And just like George Bush who said You’re doing a hell of a job, Brownie in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath

Dake will come out and say You're doing a hell of a job,Marcia.

Too bad about the ballet leaving, "

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CP12345 wrote on May 14, 2009 2:16 PM:

" why is attendence down?
#1 - ridiculous prices for concert tickets and fees (considerably more than at the Syracuse NYS Fair or Darian Lake / Buffalo Outdoor Amplitheater)
#2- adults wanting to drink a beer are coralled like cattle into this fenced area to spend $10 a drink. Aside from ridiculous prices, you have no view of the stage while in here.
#3- the lawn area is just too crowded. The mall like food court and restrooms should have been built further back leaving more viewing / seating area on the lawn.
#4 - the food is bad- years ago there was a grill to buy from, or you just brought in a cooler with your own.

I grew up in Saratoga and SPAC was a blast. Not anymore. Lawn seats were under $30 and you were allowed to bring in coolers with drinks / food.

But lets not worry- the board of directors will spend countless hours and I am sure excess money on meetings / lunches / etc to try to figure out these common sense issues. "

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kaiser soze wrote on May 14, 2009 4:11 PM:

" When the Yankees seats went unsold they cut price is that a concept you can understand Dake? "

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Victoria Pool to cost $8 and parking fees going up at Saratoga Spa State Park.

Spa State Park pool, parking fees to change
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Pool and parking fees at the Spa State Park are set to change this year, according to the 2009 operation schedule released by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Changes to the fees and operating schedule at Saratoga Spa State Park are part of a region-wide plan to adjust services to meet patron demand, promote underutilized facilities and implement cost-saving measures during a period of state budget reductions.

The contact stations opened for weekends May 2 and will be open everyday starting May 23 to collect a $6 vehicle use fee (VUF) for entrance into the southern end of the park through Oct. 12. The southern end of the park includes the Peerless Pool complex, Geyser Creek picnic area and all of the park’s eight picnic pavilions, which are available for rental.

The Victoria Pool and the Peerless Pool complex will open Saturday, June 27, and will close for the season Monday, Sept. 7. The Victoria Pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. The Peerless Pool complex will be open six days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The complex will be closed Tuesdays throughout the summer.

The pool fee at the Victoria Pool will be $8 per adult and $4 per child. The pool fee at the Peerless Pool will be $2 per adult and $1 per child. The park has raised the entrance fee at the Victoria Pool and lowered the entrance fee at the Peerless Pool in an effort to encourage families and other pool-goers to patronize the Peerless Pool complex. In prior years, the Victoria Pool has suffered from overcrowding and intermittent closure because of its limited capacity of 344 patrons. The Peerless Pool complex can accommodate more than 1,000 patrons and has amenities like water slides, a kiddie pool, a zero-entry pool, a new playground and picnic areas nearby that are not available at the Victoria Pool.

The park is also increasing parking fees this year for Live Nation rock concert events to encourage carpooling and mass transportation to the event; reduce negative impacts to the park; and to offset the extra security, life safety and clean-up costs associated with the rock concert series. On nights when there is a rock concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), the fee for parking in Saratoga Spa State Park will be increased to $10. The VUF for concert patrons entering the park will be raised from $6 to $10 when the SPAC Route 50 parking lots are opened for the event. Typically, the Route 50 lots open two hours before showtime, or three hours before showtime for the larger events. Parking at the Route 50 parking lots will continue to be free of charge. The $10 parking fee will only apply to concert-goers parking in the park. The fee will be applied in both the southern end of the park, where it has traditionally been collected at the contact stations, and in the northern end of the park when and where lawn parking is required within the main campus or mall.

A parking fee will not be charged for SPAC’s classical programming.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

House at Saratoga Spa State Park being leased by Private Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs

We assume the private Waldorf School is paying for the renovations to 45 Kadeross Ave. part of Saratoga Spa State Park(road behind pj's bar-b-q). They have leased the property for a year round "forest kindergarten" for their students.

The public is very upset that several cutbacks to Saratoga Spa State Park are affecting both public pools this summer.
Fiscal difficulties will close the Peerless Pool on Tuesdays in 2009 and close both the Victoria and Peerless Pools one hour early. Rumor also has it that the Victoria Pool fee is being raised to $8. It is already the most expensive State pool admission at $6.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Forest kindergarten hosted by Saratoga spa State Park

Forest kindergartenMay 4, 2009 at 11:47 am by Dennis Yusko, Staff writer
Up to 40 area kindergarten students will attend class outdoors all year long under a new agreement between the Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Spa State Park.

The school’s new “Forest Kindergarten” program will launch in September on state park land off Kaydeross Avenue. The school and park are doing minor renovations to a farmhouse at the site and will build a garden on a half-acre of mowed land. Students will use the 300 acres of State Park forest land as their classroom.

“They will spend the vast majority of their days outdoors, even in the winter,” Gina Michelin, the school’s development director said. The students would be brought in the farmhouse’s two traditional classrooms on prohibitively cold or wet days, she said.

The program is unique to the U.S., though countries like Denmark have tried nature-based approaches to education since the 1950s, said Michelin, whose 4-year-old son Sam is one of 20 children already enrolled in the program. The program can accept up to 40 students, she said.

The outdoor classroom aims to battle “nature deficit disorder,” or a lack of free, outdoor play in the lives of today’s children and how it is negatively impacting their physical, emotional and intellectual health, the school says.