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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, June 5, 2008
By Melissa Hale-Spencer
NEW SCOTLAND The Olympic-sized swimming pool at Thacher Park was demolished last August with no immediate plans for replacement. Now there are plans, and some funds, for a new pool, although the earliest it would open is next summer.
“This year’s state budget has $132 million for the capital improvement plan for New York State Parks. It’s a record number,” said Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
She said there are 128 state parks with capital needs totaling $700 million.
The Olympic-sized pool with a high diving board had been the big summer draw at John Boyd Thacher State Park in the Helderbergs for half a century and was used by children in nearby towns for swimming lessons. Generations of Hilltown residents worked there as ticket-takers, in the concession stand, in the locker rooms, or as lifeguards.
In March of 2006, the state announced a $3 million project to completely renovate the pool complex, making it the first park in New York to have a water slide. The old pool was to be replaced with a smaller 7,050-square-foot “leisure pool,” featuring an “interactive water play structure,” a free swim area, and a large looping water slide, the parks office said.
A 2,860-square-foot spray pad, with shallow water and spray for children to play in, was to be installed in the shell of the old pool. The project was also to have included a new bathhouse and landscaping. Half of the price was to have been covered by a grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Last August, Larrabee alluded to the exit of governor George Pataki and the election of Eliot Spitzer and said, “Once the previous administration made its announcement…not much else happened. When the new administration took over and looked at the needs of various parks,” she said, the initial plan didn’t look feasible.
“There were issues with the existing structure,” said Larrabee, so the decision was made to “move ahead with demolition.”
This week, she said, “The old pool could not function. It was leaking thousands of gallons a day. It could not be saved.”
She anticipates “design options” will be unveiled at the end of the month and said she could not comment on what they are. Asked if the pool would have a water slide, she said, “There will be a water feature.”
Federal funds totaling $1.5 million to be used for the original water-park plan are still available, said Larrabee, and $1 million is available in this year’s state budget.
The total estimated cost for the project is now $7 million, she said, adding, “It’s a multi-year funding commitment.”
Other issues also need to be dealt with, she said, such as re-paving parking lots and repairing a water line at Thompson’s Lake.