Spa State Park to Receive $7M
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A statewide program to radically transform New York’s State Parks will have a positive impact locally. Under a plan called NY Parks 2020, $7 million dollars has been earmarked to Spa State Park for significant upgrades to many of its facilities.
The plan, which has allocated a total of $900 million in capital funding, was detailed in a Monday, Mar. 2 press conference at Spa State Park by state parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. The plan recapped some of the improvements to state parks since 2011 with an eye towards continued future upgrades.
At Spa State Park, some of these improvements are already visible, including a new entrance sign and a renovated façade at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). Yet, most of the major improvements will be forthcoming shortly.
These upgrades include:
- At SPAC, a “green parking lot” with porous material and vegetation will be open this season, providing an environmentally sustainable entrance
- A new picnic shelter and bathrooms at the Peerless Pool’s Polaris Pavilion
- Upgrades to the Victoria Pool
- Refurbishments of Roosevelt and Lincoln Bathhouses
- Rebuilding the Hathorn playground
- Construction of a classroom / environmental center near Geyser Creek, which is tentatively scheduled to be completed in 2016
- Renovation of the Karista mineral spring
- General trail upgrades.
“SPAC is grateful for the Governor’s commitment to revitalize New York’s State Parks through the NY Parks 2020 Plan,” said SPAC President and Executive Director Marcia J. White. “Continued investment in Saratoga Spa State Park and all New York State Parks is essential because these cultural and natural landmarks contribute to our state as economic engines and important centers of community life. This investment will help us achieve our mission of enhancing the quality of life of the community we serve, and allow us to continue to bring world-class performing arts to our region in years to come.”
Regarding Moreau Lake State Park, Harvey expressed optimism that 763 acres of land surrounding the closed Mt. McGregor Prison facility will eventually get transferred to Moreau’s adjacent parkland. A timetable for actual development will have to await the land’s transfer from the state’s Corrections Department and the formulation of a master plan for the site. At this point, a priority for the Parks department is to work with Corrections to secure utilities for the Grant’s Cottage historic site, which is next to the prison, for the opening of its season in May.
No funding for new projects at Moreau Lake was specifically named in the NY Parks 2020 report. But according to information provided by Dan Keefe, deputy public information officer at the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Department, Moreau Lake had previously received funding in the amount of $1,275,000 for resurfacing campground roads and the swimming beach parking area, as well as to rehabilitate the restroom area in 2012, and $100,000 to rehabilitate the beach bathhouse roof in 2013. Keefe said that future projects would be determined when the funding is approved in the state’s annual budget.
A significant element of the NY Parks 2020 plan is that funding has been placed in a pool in the capital budget, which eliminates the need for state parks to secure funding on an individual project basis. In 2015-16, $110 million has been put in the capital budget for state park projects, so it is conceivable that Moreau Lake might receive further project funding when the transfer of McGregor’s lands is completed.
Overall, about $840 million of the $900 million in funding will come from state funds; $640 from the NY Works program for infrastructure improvements; $200 million from partnerships with state agencies such as the Department of Transportation. The balance will come from Federal dollars and private philanthropic and “friends” groups.
The plan has a stated goal of completing many neglected infrastructure projects statewide, while providing for seven strategic priorities to position the state parks for the future:
• Transforming New York’s flagship State Parks (Spa State Park was specifically identified)
• Promoting healthy, active outdoor recreation
• Connecting people with parks
• Rejuvenating New York’s world-class park system
• Preserving historic sites and cultural assets
• Sustaining New York’s natural environment
• Energizing local economies
Since 2012, New York State has advanced 279 capital improvement projects at 109 parks and historic sites. The NY Parks 2020 plan allocates just over half (52 percent) of the $900 million in funding to infrastructure – much of which park patrons may not see. Yet at Spa State Park, the prospect is for many visible improvements from the $7 million earmarked will help to keep its place as one of New York State’s treasures.
For more information, visit nysparks.com/publications/documents/NYParks2020.pdf