Wednesday, November 13, 2013

recent gazette editorial urging SPAC to reinstate longer season for New York City Ballet.

Bravo to SPAC for sticking with the arts

Saturday, November 2, 2013
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Marcia White, president and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, has taken her share of criticism for the incredible shrinking New York City Ballet summer residency, which on her watch has gone from three weeks to two to one this year (in dance terms, about the size of a ballerina’s waist).
It’s not all her fault — the ballet company wants more money, which SPAC currently does not have — but it’s a big cultural loss to the Capital Region, and an economic one to Saratoga Springs. Fortunately, White still seems committed to a multiweek residency for NYCB in 2015 (after another one-week stay next year), and to the arts in general.
Some cases in point. After finding out in 2012 that NYCB would again be cutting back, White signed up two other companies, National Ballet of Canada and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, for three performances each this summer. Although neither was up to NYCB’s illustrious standards, they were good. But, perhaps predictably, they weren’t big draws. Another, more popular dance company, Momix, filled the house for one performance; but they do “dance illusion” (a multimedia spectacle with lights and props), not ballet.
And for the coming year, White hit a home run, landing one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious companies, the Bolshoi Ballet, which will be on a three-stop tour of the United States. They’ll give four performances of “Don Quixote,” and can also be expected to pack them in.
The same with David Finckel and Wu Han in the Spa Little Theater. They aren’t dancers but world-renowned musicians — Finckel a cellist and Han a pianist — with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Next year they and their group (which they also serve as artistic directors) will start an annual summer residency in Saratoga, the group’s first such arrangement anywhere. Finckel and Han, who already have a following in the Capital Region thanks to their frequent appearances at the Union College concert series, will make an already good SPAC chamber music summer program an exceptional one.
We’re glad to see that SPAC remains committed to the classical arts, but it must continue to shoot for top quality. In dance, that means NYCB. SPAC’s management has to find ways, whether fund raising, sponsorships or wine and food festivals like the successful one held this year, to get the wherewithal to bring the company back for more than a week each summer.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

SPAC worried about competition coming.

Casinos a concern to area arts venues

Coalition seeks limits on new facilities

Friday, October 18, 2013
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Proctors is among a group of regional arts venues to join together to express concern over the possible impact of proposed new casinos.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Proctors is among a group of regional arts venues to join together to express concern over the possible impact of proposed new casinos.
— Proctors in Schenectady was closing in on a decision on whether to form a partnership with the Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs last spring when the Saratoga Casino and Raceway made a bombshell expansion announcement.
A two-part feasibility study conducted by Proctors over the winter determined the former Universal Baptist Church — with a potential 800-person capacity — could serve as a niche entertainment facility in the Spa City and help fill the gaps left by other venues around the Capital Region. Then the racino announced an ambitious plan to build a 24,000-square-foot event center as part of a $30 million expansion.
The project was announced as Saratoga Springs appeared to be a logical location for one of three proposed live-table game casinos, pending a state constitutional amendment legalizing Las Vegas-style gambling. Then, when state legislators adopted a plan that all but assured the Capital Region one of the four casinos, Proctors decided to put on hold any decision regarding a collaboration with the hall.
Simply put, November’s referendum and the possibility of having a new entertainment venue in the area leaves too much up to chance. Philip Morris, Proctors’ chief executive officer, fears the establishment of casinos with entertainment facilities will have a notable effect on mid-sized venues like the hall and others throughout the state.
“We have our concerns about the casinos,” he said. “They’ll have an impact on Universal Preservation Hall and other entertainment facilities.”
Now, more than a dozen arts and entertainment venues from across the state are grouping together to call for limitations on casinos that would prevent them from having a negative impact on surrounding facilities. The Coalition for a Fair Game is proposing a series of protections that would limit the capacity of casino-based entertainment venues to 1,000 seats, establish long-term limits on expansion of those facilities, and require casino bidders to reach partnership agreements with each facility within close proximity to establish exclusivity terms, among other things.
The coalition includes a number of area entertainment facilities, including Proctors, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Saratoga City Center, Albany’s Palace Theater and the Times Union Center. The group is planning an announcement Tuesday, just two weeks before voters head to the polls to decide on legalized live table gaming.
The coalition isn’t anti-casino, Morris said. Rather, the group wants to start a discussion about the potential impacts such facilities could have on nearby venues.
Marcia White, SPAC’s executive director, has been vocal about her concerns over the impact the casinos could have on entertainment facilities in the Capital Region. She fears having a competing entertainment and conference center — such as the one proposed at the racino — could create financial problems for existing venues.
“It’s something that our communities should all be aware of,” she said.
Racino executives are of the opinion that the planned expansion and potential for live table games won’t have a negative impact on facilities like SPAC. Earlier this week during a forum on casino gaming in Saratoga Springs, racino director James Featherstonhaugh said the only negative impacts of siting a casino in the Spa City would be the same ones that come with any other major business expansion.
“The big change is it will bring more people into Saratoga who otherwise wouldn’t be here at all,” he told a crowd of about 50 people Monday.
Racino spokeswoman Rita Cox said the venue would look to work with neighboring concert halls, but played down the notion that the proposed 24,000-square-foot “multi-purpose space” would impose a hardship on existing facilities. She said the space would likely attract acts and events that wouldn’t otherwise come to the region.
“Quite frankly, most of the things we’re going to be bringing in are going to be different events with a different appeal,” she said.

saratogian, 10/19/13, NYS Parks puts in $900,000 parking lot at SPAC. How about giving us our lawn back?

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> Work has begun on a $900,000 project to repave Saratoga Performing Arts Center’s parking lot and related roadways.
Plans call for repaving and restriping all roadways and parking spaces, installing new landscaping at the entryway and throughout the parking area, and adding new handicap-accessible parking spaces near the box office.
In addition, 420 parking spaces will be paved with porous asphalt and new drainage systems will be installed to improve stormwater filtration to protect local water quality.
“The crumbling parking lot outside of SPAC — one of upstate New York’s most popular summer destinations — will no longer be a visible sign of the deterioration of our park system,” state parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said in a statement. “We are reversing years of neglect. The improvements will improve traffic flow, incorporate new sustainable features and provide a more welcoming experience for park visitors.”
The project was awarded to Albany-based Luizzi & Brothers Contracting, which submitted the lowest competitive bid among eight firms.
Work is scheduled for completion in time for the 2014 SPAC season. The contract also includes resurfacing two parking lots in the Geyser Picnic Area within Saratoga Spa State Park. This job will incorporate porous asphalt, too.
The project is the latest in a series of upgrades at Spa State Park. Last spring, outdated parking lot lighting was replaced with new, efficient LED fixtures to reduce energy consumption.
The improvements are part of a statewide revitalization of the parks system. Last year, the state authorized $89 million under a “NY Works” program to fund more than 100 overdue projects at 55 parks and historic sites.
This year, a second round of $90 million is making possible another 90 projects at 50 state parks and historic sites across New York.
Saratoga Spa State Park attracts more than two million visitors per year.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 179 state parks and 35 historic sites.
For more information, call (518) 474-0456, go to: or follow on Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Victoria Pool opened July 26, 1935 and was known as the Recreation Center at Saratoga Spa State Park. It was also known as the Pool in the Pines, the Spa Pool and later as the Victoria Pool as it is called today.
In 2006 Dr. L. Hoge(pictured on the right)  wrote the following narrative of the time he worked as a lifeguard at the Victoria Pool shortly after it opened in the 1930’s.  The identity of the little boy in the picture is not known.  Dr. Hoge died on May 4, 2012 at the age of 96 in Saratoga Springs. This is a hand written account kept in the Victoria Pool file in the Saratoga Room at Saratoga Springs Public Library :

For two seasons 1937 and 1938 I was a Guard at the Victoria Pool, New York State Park.  The experience which I acquired on this job benefited me a great deal.  I learned how to direct and relate to people in an authoritative manner but always in a way that they would respect.  Meeting many types of individuals was interesting and enjoyable.  I was fortunate to have this job.
When I was a Guard, Mr. Edwin LaDue was Director of the Pool and his assistant was Ralph Gutchel.  They were strict but fair.  There were two guards, Bill Brenan and myself.  In our   locker room was posted a list of rules and regulations which we were to enforce assiduously, no exceptions.  Food consumption and glassware were allowed only outside the barrier protecting the pool area and no smoking near the pool.  Joseph Escobar was in charge of the pool water treatment system.  The filtration and chemical controls were maintained first class.  Rhemi Denton was my age and worked the Solarium.  Jack Wilpen was in the Golf House.  He was a hustler, always with a pencil behind his ear and he kept us informed as to action in his area.  During WWII Jack was an Army Officer and had very interesting duty in Japan.
Bill and I came on duty at 9am and the first work was clean and sweep down the pavement around the pool.  Next we used gear for vacuuming the inside of the pool.  Since on the previous day swimmers were often diving for coins many of which settled in the deeper 10 foot area, we retrieved all coins and saved them in a jar and divided the loot at the end of the season. Finally we applied 5% solution hydrochlorite solution to pavement adjacent to the pool.  The pool was not open until 10am and so having completed our work, we would take a shower and a swim, and then sitting on a poolside bench we comment how fortunate we were. There were colorful flower beds on four sides of the area.  Relaxing classical music was being played and the whole peaceful scene was like another world.  When the doors opened at 10am the guests came rushing in.  Rude and raucous actions were not allowed and if it did occur then that was when our whistles would be piping and order would be maintained.  There were always some who try diving off the side of the diving boards.  This could be very dangerous and we were very emphatic about this not being done.
There were many pool visitors whom I had the privilege to meet and being 22 yrs. Old I was impressed.  Bob Pastor was at the pool regularly during the season.  He attended New York University where he was on the boxing team.  He told me the boxing coach would have been upset if he knew Bob was swimming so much which he enjoyed. Boxers need hard firm muscles, exactly opposite of swimmers.  However, Bob went on to become a heavy weight boxer and fought Joe Louis for the championship, once in New York and again in Chicago.  He was defeated both times. 
George Cassidy was the Starter at New York Racetracks.  He was often at the pool with Bing Crosby who would relate stories concerning film making.  One scene was supposed to be at a south sea island but was actually shot in a studio.  To have the effect of rippling ocean water reflected on her face an assistant stirred a pan of water to obtain the rippling effect.  Bing said that it was difficult to keep from laughing as he was saying his lines. 
Joseph Wheatley was at the pool often and he became a good friend of mine.  He swam for the New York Athletic Club and held the quarter mile world championship.  He also swam with Duke Kahznzmaku, Olympic swimmer and famous surf boarder. In 1945 I was in the Navy and an officer on the USS Atlanta.  We were in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and I visited the Duke who took me to the Out Rigger Canoe Club on Waikiki Beach and because of my friendship with his friend, Joe Wheatley, he taught me to ride a surfboard.  He gave me this card so I could be his guest at the Out Rigger Canoe Club whenever I was back in Pearl Harbor. 
Chauncey Olcott, the famous Irish tenor had a home on Clinton St.,Saratoga. It was called Iniscarra.  Chauncey’s daughter, Janet, was at the pool often with her friends who were thoroughbred horse owners from South Carolina.
Dr. Baudisch was a scientist doing research work on Saratoga mineral waters.  His laboratory was in the Simon Baruch building now the Administration building.  He came to the pool every day and I got to know him well and appreciate his discussions on his research. 
Marshall Cassidy was a member of the Jockey Club and established a training school for racing Stewards.  His daughter was at the pool daily and in later years I was often invited to their home Apple Knoll in Garden City, Long Island.

We saw Al Jolson often.  When he was at the Solarium located at the upper level.  My friend, Rhemi Denton attended him.  At the end of the season Rhemi was very happy when Jolson gave him a $10 tip.

Sophie Tucker was an entertainer at Arrow Head Club.  She was a large lady wearing a huge white flowing bathing suit.  She would cautiously enter the shallow end of the pool.  We would joke “look the pool is rising ”.
New York State Police had a horse mounted division in the state park.  When off duty they would come to the Victoria Pool. 
Sam Rosoff was famous as the builder of New York City subways.  At Saratoga he was well known at the gambling rooms of Riley’s, Arrowhead and Piping Rock, and of course he enjoyed the beauty of Victoria Pool always entering through the Golf House with his entourage.
Teresa Wright was a young actress in 1937 when she came to Victoria Pool.  She played backgammon at poolside benches with friends.  In 1942 Teresa Wright was in the film “ Mrs. Miniver “ with Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon and she became a well known movie celebrity.
                                                                Leo J. Hoge, M.D.
                                                                July 21, 2005


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Labor day means no rest for save the victoria pool society.


Unfinished task

Society: Victoria Pool still needs saving

Members see many repairs still needed

Monday, September 2, 2013
The Victoria Pool in Saratoga State Park.
The Victoria Pool in Saratoga State Park.
— Louise Goldstein and Andrew Jennings stepped into the lobby of the Victoria Pool, with its marble fireplace and hanging chandelier, big, arched windows and wall lamps in ornate sconces.
“The floors used to shine,” sighed Goldstein. “There used to be lovely couches that people could sit on. The doors were open. The chandeliers, which are magnificent, were actually clean at one time.”
Down a hallway that opens outdoors into an arched brick walkway, they stop.
“Look,” said Goldstein, pointing up at the white ceiling, to a patch where paint has come off in strips and chunks.
A few steps away, Jennings remarks that the metal railings painted black are now rusting and will only continue to disintegrate. Around a corner, he mutters, “This is where it all sort of started,” staring down at cement steps that lead to a bright azure pool where a woman in a cloche hat floats lazily.
The day was forecast for rain and clouds, and she’s the only one in the water. For a moment, it looks like a scene from the 1930s, when the Victoria Pool and its surrounding buildings were constructed.
The cement steps Jennings spoke of are cracked in spots and beginning to crumble in others. They were a lot worse off in 2003, when Goldstein and Jennings created the Save the Victoria Pool Society and lobbied elected officials for money to renovate and restore the beloved pool facilities at the Saratoga Spa State Park. The steps had nearly disintegrated at that point and were deemed a safety hazard.
“They were falling apart and unusable,” said Jennings. “We took photos of them and used them to lobby for restoration.”
At its annual luncheon Monday, members of the Save the Victoria Pool Society met for a farewell party. It was the pool’s last day of the season. They never imagined that 10 years after forming and eight years after getting the pool restored, they would still have work that needs to be done. But they do.
Six months after the group was formed, its efforts paid off. Then-state parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro announced that $1.5 million would be used to restore the pool. Over the next few years, a good portion of that money was used to re-do electrical wiring in the pool complex. Bricks were repainted. New plumbing and pipes were put in. More than $150,000 was used on landscaping alone. The deck was completely torn up and reinstalled. The filtration system was replaced. Fixtures and walkways were restored.
It looked good. The country’s first heated pool no longer had heat, but it had its brick archways, bathhouse, golf house and a long-needed sprucing up.
“It wasn’t nearly enough,” Goldstein said Monday, stepping down onto the pool deck where the once-new stonework has crumbled in the past nine years.
“They didn’t get real cement when they redid this deck,” she continued, “so even though it was brand new 10 years ago, there are now chunks out everywhere.”
Over the winter, part of the bathhouse ceiling leading out to the pool fell, Jennings said. He wondered aloud what would have happened if it had been summer; on a nice day, the pool is usually packed to capacity.
Public safety issues aside, Goldstein and Jennings said the pool has suffered aesthetically since its 2004-05 renovation. The pricey landscaping that was put in — colorful flowerbeds, leafy green trees and shrubbery — is no longer maintained properly. The watering system for the plants broke down a few years ago.
The list of needed renovations goes on, they said. Each summer, the society meets. They take pictures and keep a blog. They write about their hopes for the pool, which they have fond memories of visiting when they were younger. They continue to lobby state parks officials, who couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
“Their response has been like, ‘What more do you want? You got $1.5 million,’ ” recalled Jennings. “They’ve even come to us and said, ‘Change the name of your organization because the pool’s been saved.’ ”

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

marcia white Q&A in post star, 6/25/13.

For the past eight years, Marcia White has overseen operations at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The 64-year-old mother of four took time from her schedule Tuesday to chat about SPAC’s past, present and future.
Q. What do you consider your biggest accomplishment since taking over as president and executive director in 2005?
A. (Long pause) I think SPAC feels different. When you come here now, it’s obvious you’re coming to a community — to a community event. You’re unplugging, maybe having a picnic on the lawn. You feel the energy and excitement because it’s the SPAC experience. The experience is more important than what is on the stage and generations will want to come back to SPAC because there’s something very different. To me, it’s a little spiritual almost.
Q. Which performer made you the most star-struck to meet?
A. That’s an easy one. First, I don’t get star struck at all. Bruce Springsteen was coming and my daughters were saying “he’s great” and “he’s The Boss.” I said, the boss of what? Then I saw him on stage warming up. I didn’t even see his face and it was like wow. There’s something about that man, the charisma, the energy. All you have to do is look at him.
Q. Tell me about the greatest day here at SPAC since you took over?
A. The day we had a press conference in 2005 and were announcing the capital improvement grant with Gov. (George) Pataki and Sen. (Joseph) Bruno. During that time, Marylou Whitney was coming back on the SPAC board and we announced that we had five new donors who each pledged $100,000 for five years. That really was the beginning of feeling that SPAC could make it.
Q. Of course I always have to ask about the worst day. What day made you cringe or cry or want to quit?
A. There was a challenging day that turned around into an amazing day. It was the final performance of West Side Story and there was a horrendous storm with torrential rain. We went into the parking lots and told people to stay in their cars, but others were already inside ... We were on stage with big brooms sweeping water off the stage. The New York City Ballet warms up behind the curtain before the show and I said we’re going to raise the curtain. The audience applauded as they warmed and I’m getting goose bumps talking about it. We took adversity and made something great.
Q. What is in your CD player or on your iPod right now?
A. I still like Norah Jones. Adele. And what I’ll do is pick up a CD of artists we have coming here and listen to them, like classical pianist Daniil Trifonov. He’s the next hot thing.
Q. Tell me a neat secret about SPAC that few would know?
A. We just discovered that that some funding for SPAC came from the horse industry. People would donate stud fees. They were committed to make SPAC work. And John Hay Whitney and Penny Chenery donated part of the sale of Secretariat to SPAC.
Q. Which performance since 2005 would you consider the most epic?
A. For me it was (pianist) Van Cliburn coming back. That was our 40th anniversary. He was a household name when he won the Moscow competition and I remember as a little girl watching that on TV. He had a presence you couldn’t believe. He was still very tall, very Texas, and we were coming down to go back stage and he looked at the audience and turned to me and said, “All these people are here for me?” He was still so modest and so endearing.
Q. What is Marcia White’s guilty pleasure?
A. Oh, chocolate! Oh, my God. And I love to, when I’m a little stressed, my favorite thing is to go get a Stewart’s make-your-own sundae.
Q. I notice a lot more country acts. Why is that and do you like country?
A. I do now. It was my least favorite. I think more and more artists are transitioning to country. Miley Cyrus, the winner of the “The Voice,” Danielle Bradbury. It has a large insurgence now. More people like it, maybe because it’s more story based.
Q. Why is the ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra important to SPAC?
A. It’s our legacy and heritage. It’s what sets us apart from other venues. The way SPAC was built by the community, beginning with the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra, it’s our legacy and heritage.
Q. I’ve read great stories about bands demanding bizarre things. Tell me the funniest or most bizarre request you know of?
A. Off the top of my head, high-quality beef jerky, but I don’t remember who requested it.
Q. Your kids have to be Brady Bunch-era kids. Did any ever give you the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” line?
A. I didn’t get “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” but I did get a Brady Bunch reference once. At one point in my career, I said maybe it’s time for me to not work so hard and go part time. One of them said, “What is this? Are you going to become the mother of the Brady Bunch and stay home and bake cupcakes. I don’t think so.”
Q. Few may realize you were a nurse before serving as an aide to Sen. Joe Bruno. How did nursing prepare you for your role at SPAC?
A. It’s psych nursing. It’s insanity. It’s damage control. But it’s also the discipline that comes with nursing. It’s a fabulous foundation. If you were in a hospital passing meds and someone was having a heart attack, you wouldn’t say “When I get done with my meds, I’ll take care of that.” You drop what you’re doing and solve the problem and then go back and do what you’re doing. That happens every day here. It’s incredibly important to manage that way.
Q. What was the most powerful lesson you learned from Bruno?
A. One of the things he taught all of us, the most important thing is to serve the people. Just like our audience is most important now. He said nobody will remember the bills we passed, they’ll remember if they had an issue with their welfare check or Medicare and you helped them with that.
Q. You orchestrated major renovations here in 2006-07, what plans do you have for the future?
A. I’d love to have some major plans if the economy turns around ... I’d love to have a new shell for the orchestra, new lighting, more camera projectors and really the ability to use video and technology to project images on a background. It’s incredibly important keeping up with technology. It’s the vision of tomorrow.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

victoria pool stellar opening day. hundred of very happy people thrilled to be at this beautiful place on a perfect day.

Everybody into the pool

People cool off, enjoy drinks with friends

Sunday, June 2, 2013
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The Victoria Pool was popular on opening day at Saratoga Spa State Park on Saturday.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson
The Victoria Pool was popular on opening day at Saratoga Spa State Park on Saturday.
— Prime real estate was in high demand on Saturday at the Victoria Pool, which opened weeks early this season because of warm weather.
There was not a spare chair or umbrella around the pool, with the area filled to its maximum capacity of 336 people in the early afternoon. Troy resident Lauren Hittinger and her boyfriend were able to secure one of the best spots around the pool — two lounge chairs with an umbrella — by arriving about 15 minutes before its 10 a.m. opening.
They weren’t the only ones arriving early. Hittinger said a crowd was already assembled outside the arched entry when they arrived. “I don’t know when the first person got here,” she said.
Hittinger, who wore a wide-brimmed floppy hat and a bikini, said the alternative to being at the side of the pool was sweating in her apartment.
The alternative for Burnt Hills resident Mike Clark, 24, was his family pool, but the almost 70-year-old Victoria Pool was calling his name. He said the pool was a great place to meet up with friends and enjoy a drink.
“I’m pretty excited to be here. It’s been a long winter,” Clark said.
The pool is a beloved feature of the Saratoga Spa State Park, offering a more relaxed venue than the Peerless Pool, which is more family oriented. Evidence of the pool’s special place in people’s hearts is the Save the Victoria Pool Society, an advocacy group for the pool.
Louise Goldstein, co-founder of the society and a fixture around the pool during the summer, was on hand for the opening day. She went out of her way to praise Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Parks Department for the early opening of the pool.
The pool’s opening received a lot of local news coverage on Friday, when it was announced. That sort of publicity runs slightly counter to the wishes of the pool’s regulars, who like their summer home to be a hidden gem.
David Pallas, a bartender in his third year at the pool, said, “[The Victoria Pool is] not a secret, but people want it to be secret.”
He said there is a sense of nostalgia about the pool and noted that he sees a lot of familiar faces from his spot at the bar, which is a busy setup about 25 feet from one corner of the pool.
Part of the reason the pool remains less well-known is the lack of obvious signs that it exists, tucked behind a columned pavilion. Ed Reutemann of Clifton Park golfed for years at the adjacent course before learning about the pool’s existence about a year ago. Now he plays a round of golf in the morning and enjoys the pool area in the afternoon, which he did on Saturday, perched on a stool at the bar.
“If you don’t know where it is, you can’t find it,” Reutemann said.
Taking in the attendance for opening day, he added, “The crowd is unbelievable for this time in the season.”
The crowd was so big that a line formed outside the entrance as people waited for others to leave.
The pool is open today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will be open the same time for the next two weekends. Starting June 22, the pool will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Friday, May 31, 2013

Splish, Splash, FLASH!!! Victoria Pool to open 10 AM, Saturday, June 1, 2013 announced by Governor Cuomo.

Thank you to all the wonderful workers and administrators at Saratoga Spa State Park, NYS Parks for all your hard work.  The Pool will be open the next 3 weekends and then daily from June 22, 2013.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

victoria pool fans hoping for opening this weekend. keep everything crossed and do your pool dance.

Victoria Pool could be open this weekend

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
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The Victoria Pool at the Saratoga Spa State Park is shown on opening day in 2012.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson
The Victoria Pool at the Saratoga Spa State Park is shown on opening day in 2012.
— It’s not definite yet, but fans of the Victoria Pool may be able to suit up this weekend and wait in line to snag a coveted poolside chaise lounge.
Saratoga Spa State Park officials are working to get things in place to open the pool this weekend, including performing water tests this week and making sure there is enough staff on duty — pool operators, lifeguards, cleaning staff and cashiers.
Park manager Mike Greenslade said he plans to decide by Thursday whether the pool will be able to open for the weekend, when high temperatures are expected to hit the mid- to upper 80s.
“We are going to try,” he said Tuesday. “We still have a few steps that we are going to do before we will know for sure.”
If the Victoria Pool does open this weekend, it would be the earliest opening in many years, said Louise Goldstein, co-founder of Save the Victoria Pool Society, which each year advocates for a Memorial Day opening.
“June 1 would be really great,” Goldstein said. “There are people who already have their bags packed. Everybody loves that pool.”
The Victoria Pool and the park’s zero-depth-entry Peerless Pool have opened around the fourth weekend in June in recent years, near the time local children get out of school for the summer. In the past two years, the Victoria Pool has opened on Father’s Day weekend, a week earlier, Greenslade said.
But Goldstein said many people expect swimming holes to open earlier — the beach at Moreau Lake State Park does, she pointed out — and are confused by Victoria Pool’s later opening.
“There’s a lot of people who think it opens Memorial Day,” she said.
No matter when the Victoria Pool lets in its first visitors, swimmers and sunbathers will notice one colorful difference this year — the pool bottom, which has been repainted white for several years running, was given a fresh coat of azure blue this spring.
The sky-blue color harkens back to the original hue of the pool, said Goldstein, who has been coming to the pool since 1940, the year she was born.
“It was gorgeous blue tile,” she said. “I wish we could get that back.”
Victoria Pool was constructed in 1934, the first heated pool in the country. It is no longer heated but is still surrounded by arched brick walls and walkways as it originally was.
The pool was a popular spot for movie stars and New York City Ballet dancers over the years, but by 2003, the pool was falling into disrepair, with crumbling masonry and dilapidated locker rooms. Goldstein and some other fans founded the Save the Victoria Pool Society to lobby for state funding to fix it up.
Then-state parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro committed $1.5 million that year to restoring the pool, and the renovation was completed in 2005.
The work included replacing the pool’s original filtration system and enhanced landscaping, plantings, lighting fixtures and walkways.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

$3M in improvements to Saratoga Spa State Park include $1M for SPAC parking lot. not one cent to keep New York City Ballet season.

$3M in fixes on tap for Spa park

Projects set for SPAC lot, bathhouse, pool

Friday, May 17, 2013
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The Roosevelt Bath House in Saratoga Spa State Park will be getting major renovations as a result of funding announced Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The Roosevelt Bath House in Saratoga Spa State Park will be getting major renovations as a result of funding announced Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
— Almost $3 million in infrastructure improvements are planned for Saratoga Spa State Park as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $90 million investment in the state’s parks.
The funding for Saratoga Spa State Park includes $1 million to rehabilitate the main Route 50 parking lot for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, $850,000 for the first stage of work on the Roosevelt II Bathhouse and $450,000 for a picnic shelter and comfort stations near the Peerless Pool.
Saratoga Spa State Park Manager Michael Greenslade said of the investment, “It’s exciting to be here at this time.”
The main SPAC parking lot will get new blacktop, new landscaping and a reconfigured entrance, which will reduce hassles entering and exiting the lot during big SPAC shows. “We’re just trying to clean it up so traffic will flow better,” Greenslade said of the entrance changes.
Improvements to the Roosevelt II Bathhouse are designed to prevent future deterioration of the building, which was constructed in 1934 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. After this phase of work, which includes weatherproofing, a new roof, and new electrical wiring, Greenslade said they hope there will be a second phase of work to make the building usable. He said the building hasn’t been used for about six decades because of a decreased interest in the baths, which only kept the Roosevelt I Bathhouse operational.
An open-air picnic shelter and comfort station near the Peerless Pool area is expected to make the adjacent playground even more attractive. “It should become quite the destination,” Greenslade said.
Also planned for the park is the rehabilitation of the Hall of Springs and work on vacant wings of the Lincoln Baths so they can be opened for office use.
Greenslade said this funding was desperately needed and noted that the park’s infrastructure was crumbling because of a lack of investment by recent administrations. The governor has committed $90 million annually in state park improvements over the next five years.
Robin Dropkin, executive director of Parks and Trails New York, a group that advocates for the state’s parks, said in a news release that the state’s investment is breathing new life into the park system. Because of this funding, she said, “The revitalization of our state park system can continue, boosting tourism, creating jobs and securing New York’s parks and conservation legacy for future generations.”
Cuomo touted the project’s ability to create jobs and potentially increase visits to the state park system, which generates $1.9 billion in annual economic activity, according to a recent study from Parks and Trails New York.
In addition to the state’s capital investment, the park system is undertaking 60 architectural and engineering designs to advance shovel-ready projects in almost 50 parks in the coming years. This is part of Cuomo’s attempt to catch up on the backlog of projects across the park system.
“Following decades of deferred maintenance and under-investment, New York’s state parks are on an exciting upswing” said Erik Kulleseid, program director of the Open Space Institute’s Alliance for New York State Parks.
More information about the state park system can be found at or by calling 474-0456.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Is it time for Governor Cuomo to throw SPAC out of Saratoga Spa State Park and keep the New York City Ballet?


Fiscal uncertainties leave length of NYCB residency at SPAC in limbo

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — New York City Ballet is expected back next year, but fiscal uncertainties make the length of its Saratoga Performing Arts Center residency unclear.

The ballet, a SPAC mainstay, will be here just one week this summer, its shortest season ever.

About 125 people turned out for SPAC’s annual membership meeting at Saratoga Spa State Park’s Hall of Springs Wednesday.

“The company has not yet concluded negotiations with its labor unions,” SPAC Chairwoman Susan Phillips Read said. “So they can’t predict their costs for 2014. As a result, it’s difficult for them to make a commitment.”

The ballet had a three-week SPAC season for decades until financial woes forced a reduction to two weeks several years ago, and just one week this summer (July 9-13). It costs SPAC more than

$1 million annually to host the ballet, and a similar amount for the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Read said SPAC and ballet officials probably won’t firm up plans for 2014 until early this July.

In the meantime, SPAC finds itself in the difficult position of lining up other dance companies, while waiting for a commitment from the city ballet.

“We have to worry that other companies will be committed elsewhere and not be available to us,” Read said.

To fill this year’s city ballet void, three other dance companies new to SPAC have been scheduled — National Ballet of Canada (July 16-18), Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (July 24-25) and Momix Botanica (Aug. 1). Continued...

In other action, members approved the election of three new SPAC board members to three-year terms. They are:

• Elizabeth Alexander — Co-owner of Hattie’s Restaurant and founder of Hattie’s annual Mardi Gras Gala that raised $75,000 for city ballet’s 2013 residency.

• Susan Dake — Wife of former SPAC Chairman Bill Dake and Stewart’s Foundation president. The Dakes are two of SPAC’s main benefactors.

• Gerry Golub — president of SPAC Action Council, SPAC’s largest volunteer fundraising arm. The Golub family owns the Price Chopper supermarket chain.

Two board members, Matt Bender and Dee Sarno, have stepped down.

Several other directors were re-elected to new terms. They are E. Stewart Jones Jr., Ed Mitzen, Nancy Touhey, Donald J. McCormack and Linda G. Toohey for three years, and Meyer Frucher for one year.

Also, SPAC President and Executive Director Marcia White announced that three new members will be added to SPAC’s Walk of Fame, which honors people instrumental to the center’s history, growth and development. They are:

• Peter Martins — New York City Ballet master in chief, who has directed the ballet for 30 years.

• Dave Brubeck — The late jazz icon, who passed away in 2012, performed at SPAC’s annual jazz festival a record 13 times.

• Jane Wait and the late Newman E. “Pete” Wait who helped lead the effort to found SPAC by spearheading a local feasibility committee and raising seed money to get the arts center off the ground. Continued...

The 2013 season begins with the May 24 Battle of the Bands at the Spa Little Theatre and runs through the Saratoga Wine & Food Fall Ferrari Festival from Sept. 6-8.

Legendary singer Tony Bennett is one of the headliners for the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival on June 29-30.

One of the season’s signature events is the 150th Anniversary of Saratoga racing concert on Aug. 8, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra with guest conductor Keith Lockhart.

A communitywide 150th anniversary of racing kickoff celebration, including fireworks, is slated for the SPAC grounds Friday, May 24.

“We had a record season last year,” White said. “We’ll break that record this year.”

For more information and a complete schedule of events, go to
» Continue to article...

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