What a challenging year it has been! The pandemic affected our various programs in the Saratoga Spa State Park. Nevertheless, we continued on and had a rather successful year despite the challenges. We owe a debt of gratitude to our members; your continued support keeps our efforts moving forward.
In October 2019 a fundraiser was held for the Spa Park’s Dog Park with nearly $400 raised to enhance the dog park for all of its visitors, especially the four-legged ones! We extend our thanks to Boca Bistro for their continued support. The Friends, in conjunction with Allison Schweizer, the Park’s Naturalist, hosted the Explore the Park After Dark program that brought in nearly 200 participants! Nini Gridley organized a successful Plein Air Art Day for local artists to create in the Park and exhibit and sell their magnificent paintings to the community.
We began 2020 by collaborating with the Park on an extremely successful First Day Hike event on January 1. In February, we offered a members’ only First Annual Cabin Fever event featuring Shawn Atkins sharing information about the Hemlock Parcel’s Historic Stone Walls and Families, and our own Frank Lombardo spoke about the 20th century trolley and train routes that used to weave their way through the Spa State Park.
The Full Moon Hike in March was well attended and provided much enjoyment and fellowship. However, just days after the hike, New York State went into pause and halted all Friends and Park activities.
In May, as the New York Forward initiative began and restrictions were gradually lifted, the Friends were awarded a $12,000 grant from Parks and Trails New York for Board of Directors training to improve organizational effectiveness, to fund various promotional and digital marketing efforts, to fund our membership in the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and for programs to expand our reach and impact once we were able. Efforts to make our group more visible within the community are well underway!As warm weather quickly filled our daily forecasts and the Park sprung to life with people enjoying a break from a long winter (and quarantine), our monthly meetings moved outside to also take in the splendor of our Park.
We extend many thanks to Mike Finley for his efforts to clean up the Park by picking up litter, Dan Blanchfield, Eric Spaulding and Park personnel for repair work on the Stryder’s Bench, Dan Lynch and local Master Gardeners for their work on the numerous flower beds and plantings. We also would like to thank Saratoga Sod and Seasons of Malta for their generous mulch donation.
The tennis courts welcomed players once again and a very successful playing season and fundraising campaign to ensure the much-needed court resurfacing was underway. Many thanks to the generosity of the Spa Park’s tennis community. Bravo to your success!
In July the Roosevelt II Bathhouse reopened after nearly 40 years of vacancy with Wired Coffee Roasters and COESA occupying the south wing of the building! When visiting Roosevelt II and Wired Coffee, a $1 donation will be made to the Friends with the purchase of their Park Blend bagged coffee. We thank Wired Coffee for their donations and for putting our logo on the bag! We hope you will stop in for a bag – they make a great holiday gift! The effort to save Roosevelt II and return it to a functioning space for all to enjoy was monumental. Thank to you all involved in making it a reality.
August was busy with two socially distanced events, a successful Disc Golf clinic organized by Eric Spaulding and DiscCap and our second Plein Air Art fair that took place on the Administration Building’s arcade. In addition, Saratoga Spa State Park and the Friends of the Saratoga Spa State Park were awarded a historic preservation award from the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation for our combined effort on the restoration of Shonts Spring. Thank you, for the support and donation from Adirondack Trust Company for making this restoration possible.
In October, Frank Lombardo partnered with Jim Richmond from Saratoga Historic Round Table and hosted two members’ only walking tours of Geyserville and the railway and trolley lines that once existed in our Park.
Which brings us to November and news of our new board members! Please help us welcome Linda Harvey, Chip Friends, Dustin Lanterman, and John Enzien. We are so grateful to have you join our group of dedicated members!We also extend our thanks to the outgoing Treasurer Nini Gridley, and Directors Phil Henzel, Trent Millet. The new Executive Committee for 2020-2021 is comprised of: Helene Brecker, President, Dan Lynch, Vice President, Frank Lombardo, Treasurer and Eric Spaulding, Secretary.
As 2020 winds to a close, we are working on our future plans; including further utilization of our grant funding to put up signage in order to properly highlight our volunteer projects, completing work on the restoration of the State Seal fountain pavilion near the Creekside Classroom, repairing benches and continuing to restore our Park’s amazing springs. We will be refining our Dog Park Renovation Plans, so we can get to work on completing various improvements projects that will garner further community awareness and support. The Friends will also embark on an ambassador program! Our ambassador’s will greet and serve as way finders for visitors to our Park and assist with the plethora of history walks, our third Plein Air Art Day and many other events and fundraisers.
In order to continue our efforts of preservation, maintenance and support for the Saratoga Spa State Park, we ask for your generosity. You can make a difference! Renew your membership for 2021, become a member of the Friends of Saratoga Spa State Park or make a donation.
Please visit friendsofsaratogaspastatepark.org or email [email protected] for more information, to donate or to become a member.
We wish you health and happiness for the holidays and a bright 2021!
Helene Brecker, President
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