The citizens of Saratoga Springs as of Tuesday, Aug. 21, officially have a public waterfront park to call their own.
The lower portion of a 4.6-acre city-owned property on Saratoga Lake was opened to picnicking, fishing and non-motorized boat use. Though city officials applauded the move, the facilities are a far cry from what was originally proposed in 2008 development plans that called for a three-phase plan complete with a public beach, pier/dock, an amphitheater, a beach area and picnic areas.
“We thought it was high time to do what we could now do, with a limited budget, to finally make the Waterfront Park usable to those who are paying for it”, said Mayor Johnson in a statement.
Commissioner of Public Works Anthony Scirocco said about $35,000 was spent to widen the road to the park, demolish buildings on the site, clean up the area and conducted a required archaeological study on the upper portion of the property. The city acquired the property in 2006 for $2 million.
The three phases of construction in the original plan correlated to the site’s topography and lent itself well to three distinct levels. The portion recently developed is on the lower third of the parcel, closest to the lake.
In 2008, the park project was placed on the city’s capital improvement budget, with $1.33 million scheduled to be spent in the coming year and another $545,000 in 2010. Budget crunches forced that money to be spent elsewhere, though.
Scirocco said that other phases of the plan may still be built, depending on funding and what is found during the archeological dig. Funds are being sought through grants and a picnic area is planned where the study is being conducted, but that project is at a “standstill” until the dig is completed.
“There’s at least lake access now,” said Scirocco. “I know it’s been a long time coming, and I know that they will enjoy the property and the views. We would appreciate it if the public would please carry out any trash they create.”
Presently there is a small dock for launching of canoes or kayaks, a pavilion and restrooms at the park all for public use. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk.