A new vision for Spa State Park
Dog park, trail upgrades among renovations in plan; funding uncertain
By DENNIS YUSKO, Staff writer
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First published: Thursday, August 27, 2009
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Saratoga Spa State Park would get a visitors center near its entrance, a "Frisbee golf" course and new trail loops under a master plan released Wednesday by state leaders. A second traditional golf course and botanical garden didn't make the cut.
The 144-page vision for the 2,500-acre park also calls for improvements to the park's bath houses, mineral springs, pools, dog park and more that would cost tens of millions of dollars over the next 10 to 15 years.
The work is necessary because the park's infrastructure is "showing the effects of an extended period of deferred maintenance resulting from insufficient financial resources." But a lot of Wednesday's recommendations still face uncertainty due to costs.
"Some actions will be undertaken in the next one to three years; many others will be implemented further in the future if and when funding becomes available," the plan from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation states. Some projects depend on private support.
Dubbed the "jewel of the state system," the Saratoga park is a year-round recreational and cultural tourist attraction that is filled with theaters, museums and several aging, historic buildings. But there presently is no way for visitors to orient themselves within the park, said Alane Ball Chinian, regional director of state parks in the Saratoga-Capital District Region.
With minor renovations, the lobby of the park's Lincoln Bathhouse on Route 9 would be turned into a mineral waters museum and visitor center under the master plan. Also, the park's administrative offices would be moved into the property's Roosevelt bath house, which requires rehabilitation.
The plan also calls for repairing other structures in the park. Last year, the state held public meetings to solicit ideas on improving the park. While the plan omits a new 18-hole golf course, it includes a 9-hole disc course around the Peerless Pool, which some residents had requested.
The game involves throwing a flying disc, such as a Frisbee, at a target. Improvements also would be made to the Peerless and Victoria pools, but a botanical garden would not be built because it is "not in keeping with the goals of the park."
A new comprehensive trail system with signs is suggested, along with a fenced-in area for dogs in the east part of the park.
Renovations to Saratoga Performing Arts Center would include replacing tent concessions with permanent structures, increasing parking in SPAC lots by removing vegetation and creating a substantial non-smoking area for patrons.
The park also would get new pavilions, softball fields, asphalt tennis courts and more.
Dennis Yusko can be reached at 454-5353 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation prepared a draft environmental review of the Saratoga Spa State Park master plan. A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in the park's Gideon Putnam Hotel. Members of the public have until Oct. 9 to submit comments.
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