Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Office of Parks to public: just keep twisting in the wind while we twiddle our thumbs.

State officials urge patience on park closures
Story Discussion By DREW KERR, dkerr@poststar.com | Posted: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 5:01 pm | (1) Comments

Font Size: Default font size Larger font size SARATOGA SPRINGS -- State officials are trying to quell concerns that the Victoria Pool at Saratoga Spa State Park will be closed this summer because of budget cuts.

Rumors about the pool's closure emerged over the weekend, but officials with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said this week that no decisions about the facility have been made.

"It would be misleading to the public to say there is a plan to close (the Victoria Pool)," said Dan Keefe, a department spokesman.

Parks officials have acknowledged that some state parks, park facilities and historic sites in New York are likely to be closed this year as the department deals with funding cuts.

But a review of exactly what will be shuttered this year is ongoing, Keefe said, and is unlikely to be finished for weeks.

The savings are being sought in light of Gov. David Paterson's budget proposal, which cuts state spending on parks by around 16 percent compared with the current year.

If enacted, the parks department would receive around $155 million in the 2010-11 state budget, a decline of $29 million from the amount afforded in the previous spending plan.

Louise Goldstein, a Saratoga Springs resident and founder of the Save the Victoria Pool Society, said she has been scrambling this week to learn more about the state's plans but has been unsuccessful.

Despite receiving no official indication that the pool will be closed, group members planned to urge the Saratoga Springs City Council to pass a resolution during the council's Tuesday meeting in support of keeping the pool open.

Goldstein's group may also make a visit to Albany to express concerns, Goldstein said.

"We know how to fight, and we are going to fight," she said.

Goldstein said the pool should be saved because it is one of the few affordable venues for area residents to swim during the summer; the only other public pool in Saratoga Springs is the Peerless Pool, which is also located in Saratoga Spa State Park.

The Victoria Pool facility, which opened in 1934 as the country's first heated pool, has a certain ambiance that is enjoyed by visitors from around the world, Goldstein said.

"It is much, much more than a swimming pool - it's the most beautiful swimming pool in all of America," she said. "It's got a certain magic that makes it not just a Saratoga but a national treasure."

People from around the country have contacted her this week to express their concerns that the pool would be shuttered, Goldstein said.

She said she was particularly miffed at the suggestion the pool could be closed in light of the state's spending $1.5 million on improvements between 2003 and 2005 and because attendance has blossomed since then.

Attendance figures could not be obtained as of press time on Tuesday.


Posted in Local on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 5:01 pm | Tags: Victoria Pool, Saratoga Spa State Park, Peerless Pool, State Budget,

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5 comments:

Ben lives on said...

Cutting this mouth piece Keefe would be a good place to start saying some money

Daniel Keefe, who made $71,121 in 2008 is the Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation spokesperson

Anonymous said...

I'll donate $100. towards the State Park if they remove BRUNO'S sign !

Anonymous said...

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Helen Scott said...

The self-serving and demanding nature of this society continues to astonish me. You aknowkledge that NYS has budgetary problems, but instead of fundraising, or working to help find funding for the pool (a fairly wasteful expenditure, when you consider the humanitarian conditions in Haiti right now) you continue to make demands. Surely you realize that the pool is expensive to run. You're angry when the (State-ownned) pool ISN'T open. You're angry when the (State-owned) pool charges too much, BUT you fail to make the connection that if the NYS budget is in trouble, they can either (1) close the pool; (2) charge more; or (3) rely on the help of hardworking fundraisers who love the pool and have REAL SOLUTIONS to help. Furthermore, how can you be so obtuse in thinking that funding a pool should take priority over other, more publicly beneficial NYS programs. Also, please note: Since the Victoria Pool is in the Saratoga Spa STATE Park, grousing to the City Council is just ineffectual whining. It would be terribly sad if the pool were closed this season, but instead of making demands of our legislators and state representatives (and, bizarrely, City Councilmen), you should work to organize fundraisers to show how much you care. Anyone can complain. (And you certainly excel at it.)

Anonymous said...

Well, Benliveson, Dan Keefe isn't the only mouthpiece at Parks - nor the highest paid. The Public Affairs Bureau at Parks is fat with political favoritism. When Ash came in, she appointed her own Director, but Castro's Director stayed on! The new Director brought her own 'secretary' (not her title) with her and, in the midst of this solid hiring freeze recently awarded the 'secretary' with an Assistant Commissionership.

It's time to stop filling the agencies with appointees who have no interest in anything other than their own resumes. Oh wait a minute, what am I saying?, this is New York.