Saratoga County

Ideas sought for Spa State Park plan

State parks officials want to hear from the public on what people think the Saratoga Spa State Park

State parks officials want to hear from the public on what people think the Saratoga Spa State Park should be like in 20 years.

“This park has so much going on,” said Alane Ball Chinian, the new regional director of the Saratoga-Capital Region District of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

She noted the 2,500-acre park includes a major corporation (Delaware North with a long-term lease to operate the Gideon Putnam Hotel and conference center) as well as nonprofits like the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and Homemade Theater, among others, and a host of recreational facilities.

“We want to develop a master plan to really inform how we perform management of the park,” Chinian said on Friday.

State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash has reinstated a master planning effort for all state parks, with the Saratoga Spa State Park being first on the list.

Park officials will host a public informational meeting on the master plan at 6:30 p.m. June 16 in the ballroom of the Gideon Putnam Hotel in the park.

“Spa Park is such a tremendous resource for this region and offers so many different recreational, economic and educational opportunities,” Chinian said. “I am looking forward to a lively discussion with the community to chart its future.”

Chinian said the state is already investing significantly more money than in the past to renovate and improve parks statewide.

She said the parks office has a planning division in Albany that has “geared up” to help parks create a new master plan for the next 20 years.

“We are kind of the guinea pig here,” she joked.

The Albany people will work with a core group of people on the master plan, including Spa Park Manager Michael Greenslade, Chinian and others.

“We are hoping to get it done in a year,” Chinian said.

The completed plan will advance the agency’s goals of park revitalization, natural resource stewardship, education and interpretation, according to a state parks statement. Chinian said state parks also wants to “create new connections with other green space and improve sustainability practices.”

The master plan will include ongoing input from the general public, local officials, friends groups and other interested parties.

At the June 16 meeting, parks staff members will provide a brief overview of the planning effort and an introduction to all of the resources of the park.

“The public is invited to provide suggestions on issues, impacts and alternatives that should be addressed in the draft plan,” says a statement on the meeting.

The completed draft master plan will also serve as a draft environmental impact statement under the state’s environmental review laws.

Chinian said the public will have other opportunities for comments and recommendations on the master plan. Written comments on the master plan will be accepted for the draft plan if they are received by July 18. The written comments can be sent to: Salim Adler, state park planner, Agency Building No. 1 (17th Floor), Albany, NY 12238.

Chinian said she expects the master plan to be finished by May. The next master plan to be started in Chinian’s Saratoga-Capital Region District will be for the John Boyd Thacher State Park in Albany County. This will be started in about a year, she said.

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