“The July 4th date may be a bit aggressive given the work that needs to be done to open the lowest level of the park,” admitted Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson, who has pushed to open the park since he first took office in 2008. “We may make that target date, but if not, certainly sometime within the summer season.”
Located along the east side of Saratoga Lake off of Crescent Avenue near Cassidy Drive, the city of Saratoga Springs purchased the four-acre property in 2006 for $2 million with the help of an open space bond. But plans for the space, at least initially, never materialized, and the area was promptly padlocked and left to sit. But in 2008, under new city leadership, local architecture and landscape design firm, the LA Group, drafted an ambitious plan for the property that included a designated swimming area, a large pier, a kayak and canoe boat launch, a playground, picnic area, restroom facilities and more.
“With the economy turning sour in mid to late 2008, the city had to divert money over to higher priorities and we had to put a hold on some of the plans,” said Mayor Johnson. “But we’ve never abandoned the plan, and our goal is to make it accessible to the public this summer.”
The city will be utilizing a $200,000 matching grant from the state of New York it received in 2010 to help complete the first leg of the project.
“It’s a beautiful, three-tiered level design, based on the topography and the natural formation of the site. The lowest level is the waterfront portion that now has a pavilion on it, as well as bathrooms and some seating areas,” said Mayor Johnson.
With any luck, it’s this lower section of the park the city hopes to have ready in time for Independence Day.
As funding becomes available, the city hopes to pursue improvements to the property on the upper two tiers, carrying out different parts of the plan piece by piece.
“On the upper level, there’s a structure that will be retained but renovated into more of an informational area. We’ll likely add some bathrooms there too,” said Mayor Johnson. “The upper level will also have a parking and drop off area, as well as a playground for children and a seating and picnic area for adults,” said Mayor Johnson. “The idea is to have a series of informational kiosks that would appear along the upper level of the park and lead down to the lower level, telling the history of Saratoga and its relationship to the lake.”
The property was once home to a restaurant known as The Waterfront. The former restaurant was recently torn down earlier this year, opening up a large swath of green space and allowing access to Saratoga Lake.
“Eventually, we hope to add things like a pier onto the lake for fishing, and maybe even some tour boats, ultimately. There’s also a plan to have a swimming area that is designated and roped off as such, along with an area for launching non-motorized boats and crafts,” said Mayor Johnson. However, the mayor noted that residents should not expect the designated “swimming [area] as of yet, but there will be in the future when we have a better plan in place.”