Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Geyser restoration continuing, PostStar, Saratoga Blog.
Restoration plan sprouting up
StoryDiscussionImage (3)Restoration plan sprouting up
By DREW KERR firstname.lastname@example.org The Post-Star | Posted: Friday, December 3, 2010 12:05 am | (1) Comments
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Derek Pruitt - email@example.com Lester Beninati and his grandson Scott Beninati sample mineral spring water near the island spouter spring at Saratoga Spa State Park on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010. Beninati brought his grandson along who was visiting from Alaska and hadn't been to the park in years. The geyser spring, at right, and the surrounding visitor area have been restored through a public-private partnership with donations near $150,000. .
..SARATOGA SPRINGS — When state parks officials set out to restore the area around the mineral-water spouting geyser that served as the genesis of the city's tourism industry there was one project they didn't anticipate having to tackle - fixing the geyser itself.
But, in overhauling the area around the so-called island spouter this summer, officials at Saratoga Spa State Park discovered the 300-foot-deep well bore dug to reach the limestone layer where the mineral waters percolate had been compromised.
The geyser - the only such formation east of the Rockies - would sit dormant unless a new well casing was installed.
It was, and this week the geyser was shooting a 10-foot arch of mineral water fresh from the fault line on which it sits.
The repaired spout is among several efforts made over the last five months to beautify the area surrounding the geyser and other mineral springs that dot the 100-year-old state park.
Workers have also cleaned up an area near the geyser where visitors can fill glasses with mineral water, put in new sidewalks so the area is handicapped-accessible and rebuilt a pavilion next to the geyser.
Future plans call for adding signs that will explain the history of the park, its springs and their role in the city's tourism industry, and putting in an extended trail network and a new overlook area.
Those efforts will be taken up again in the spring, and officials said this week they hope to have most of the work done by this time next year.
"People have been very excited about the whole process," park manager Michael Greenslade said. "I think having this area cleaned up and dressed up will just make it that much more attractive to people."
Work to restore the area around the geyser began in May, when officials kicked off a fund-raising effort as part of the park's centennial celebration.
More than $150,000 in donations has since been collected, and officials are seeking another $100,000 to finish the renovations.
Heather Mabee, a volunteer parks commissioner who represents the Saratoga region, said the money that has been raised shows people are willing to step in and support parks when their tax money will not.
Public funding for state parks across New York has diminished in recent years because of budget shortfalls, and officials said they sought private money for the restoration because it was unlikely tax dollars would be spent on such a project.
"People are still contributing, whether it's $5 or $1,000," Mabee said. "We've really been overwhelmed by the public's realization of how important these springs are."
Mabee said restoring the springs is important because they played a critical role in the development of the park, and are such a part of the community's history.
The state bought the land around the springs in 1910 as industry moved to exploit natural gases beneath the surface, threatening the environment.
The area later became a mecca for tourists who sought the mineral water's restorative powers, and park visitors remain enthralled by the water today.
"This is the place in the park that attracts the most tourists, which is really why we picked this place to focus on," said Alane Ball Chinian, director of the Saratoga-Capital region for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Another project in the park was undertaken this year through a public-private partnership.
Two dozen white pines were planted along the Avenue of the Pines last month through a program in which the drink company Odwalla distributes money for tree-plantings in parks.
And a group of resident volunteers, part of a "friends" group that supports the park, has restored a pair of pavilions this year.
Chinian said the efforts show that parks can find ways to make improvements despite limited resources.
"What I think this work really shows is that we're moving on, even in this very difficult economic time," she said.
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.Posted in Local, Saratoga on Friday, December 3, 2010 12:05 am Updated: 12:06 pm. | Tags: Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Spa State Park, Geyser, Mineral Water