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 www.nysparks.com or by calling 474-0456.