Saratoga Spa State Park could be the home of a Frisbee golf course, a new visitor center and an off-leash area for dogs if the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is able to follow through on a draft master plan for the park released on Wednesday, Aug. 26.
The 144-page document identifies the office’s ultimate goal as making the Spa State Park the premiere park in the area. OPRHP Regional Director for the Saratoga-Capital District Region Alane Ball Chinian said the park’s location and high frequency of visitors make it a natural target for the department’s resources.
Saratoga Spa State Park is one of the area’s most beautiful and popular parks,` she said. `It’s an excellent place to have it be a showpiece of good park management.`
The plan was drafted internally over the course of about a year, said Chinian, and the suggestions run the gamut. It calls for numerous recreational improvements, including the rehabilitation of existing facilities (like the tennis courts, picnic shelters and the Peerless Pool and Victoria Pool complexes) and the installation of new features such as a 9-hole disc golf course, new trails, an off-leash area for dogs in the eastern portion of the park, new picnic pavilions and new softball fields.
In addition, the plan suggests preserving the historical aspects of the park through an expansion of educational programs and the creation of a new mineral waters museum and visitor center in the Lincoln Bath House.
Various other items throughout the park are targeted for maintenance and upkeep. Through bioengineering and stormwater controls, the parks department hopes to address creek bank erosion and the expansion of invasive species along the Kayaderosseras Creek and Geyser Brook.
The report sets ambitious goals for the park in a time when many state services, including those under the auspices of the OPRHP, have been cut back. The department closed the Peerless Pool on Tuesdays this summer as part of a 100-park cutback of services designed to control costs.
The cost of implementing the improvements called for in the draft of the master plan have not been calculated, but it would collectively cost `tens of millions` to implement them.
Chinian said that many of the big-ticket upgrades constitute a `wish list` that may or may not come to fruition, but much of the planning will be helpful anyways.
`I don’t think it’s a bad idea to take the time to develop a strategic plan for the park regardless of what the economic situation is,` she said. `Some of those things can be made operations just in the normal course of doing business here.`
That might include the suggestion of installing new signage in the park to direct visitors.
`We know that the signage is very inconsistent. It’s difficult for people to find their way around the park,` Chinian said. `We could move forward on those things over time with very little expense.`
Public comment will be gathered before a final version of the plan is drafted. A hearing will be held on Thursday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Gideon Putnam Hotel in the park, and written comments may be provided until Friday, Oct. 9.
The report may be viewed at http://nysparks.state.ny.us/news/publicdocuments/.