Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 24, 2010

Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe

Saratoga Spa State Park Celebrates 100th Anniversary

First comprehensive master plan for the park adopted

Regional Commission kicks off Centennial private fund raising effort to restore the "Vale of Springs"

(May 24, 2010 Saratoga Springs, NY...) Saratoga Spa State Park Celebrates 100th Anniversary. At a ceremonial event to kick off the 100th operating season of the park, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) Commissioner Carol Ash announced the adoption of the first comprehensive master plan for the Park. The event also kicked-off a project to restore the historic "Vale of Springs".

"I am thrilled to mark the 100th anniversary of one of the most beautiful and popular parks in our state park system by announcing the completion of the first master plan for Saratoga Spa State Park. The master planning initiative is an integral part of our efforts to revitalize New York State Parks," Ash said. "The master plan maps a sustainable future for this magnificent park, with quality public facilities, strong natural resource stewardship, education programs, and new connections and partnerships."

The year-long public master planning process for Spa Park concluded with a plan that strengthens preservation of natural areas while encouraging and expanding public use. The undeveloped areas of the 2,200 acre park are now officially designated as natural areas designed to preserve habitats and support trails. Plans for the northern area of the park call for new uses for vacant structures. Plans for a new Visitor Center in the Lincoln Bathhouse are balanced by a proposal to lease out office space to generate revenue.

"While many of the recommendations will need to wait until the economy turns around, the plan includes numerous operational, maintenance and partnering opportunities to make the most of limited resources, expand services, improve our facilities, and afford greater protections of the natural and cultural features of the park," said Ash. "I extend my gratitude to members of the community who took the time to attend the public meetings or offer comments on the draft plan. Their participation in the process made this master plan better and more complete."

Volunteers Partner with Park to improve the historic "Vale of Springs"

To recognize the 100th anniversary of the preservation of the mineral springs, volunteers serving on the Saratoga Capital District Park Commission have been leading a project to beautify and restore the mineral springs area of the park. The mineral springs tour is one of the most popular educational programs offered at the Park.

The private fund raising initiative is being co-chaired by Heather Mabee, chair of the Saratoga Capital Regional Parks Commission, and Thomas Maggs, a member of the Commission.

"The Geyser Spring is the only spouting mineral spring east of the Rockies. This area of the park needs better amenities and interpretation to make it the destination that it should be for tourists and locals alike," said Mabee.

Maggs explained, "This is a real community effort, with contractors, the Friends of Spa Park, and local businesses all chipping in. The Friends have completed the renovation of the Hayes Pavilion, while Bonacio Construction has generously offered to rehabilitate the Orenda Pavilion."

The project includes landscaping, new accessible pathways, a stairway and overlook at the Geyser waterfall, and interpretive signs. This project will build new spaces to better accommodate the tours and provide better information about the extraordinary natural features of the springs along Geyser Brook. Organizers hope to raise $250,000 for the various projects. According to Mabee and Maggs, half of the money has been committed and work is starting immediately.

Complementing the volunteer project at the springs, recent capital improvements by the agency include updated pavilion/restroom complexes throughout the picnic area. Federal stimulus funding for environmental sustainability projects was secured to improve drainage and water quality along the Ferndell Trail, a beautiful hiking path linking the Geyser Brook to the Gideon Putnam Hotel and other park amenities.

To learn more about the Spa Park Centennial Project, or to make a donation, please visit Saratoga Spa State Park.