Friday, April 06, 2007

Regarding that NY Post story on taking a bath...

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The Spa City woke up Monday morning to find itself on the front cover of The New York Post in a Fred Dicker-penned article, "Hot Water."

After a recent visit to the Roosevelt Baths in the Saratoga Spa State Park, Dicker discovered the baths he thought to contain pure mineral water were being mixed with Saratoga tap water.

"I am deeply disturbed by the report in today's New York Post that ordinary tap water is being secretly used at the famous mineral baths in the Saratoga Spa State Park," said Sen. Bruno in a statement issued Monday.
"The report that ordinary tap water has been secretly used at the baths could damage Saratoga's reputation and be harmful to business and tourism," said Bruno, calling the practice: "a serious fraud."

"My thought on that is if you have some negative news, I don't know how you could say it's a good thing," said Greg Dixon, Vice President of Tourism at the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. "The story I read in The Post painted it as an integrity issue and whether you're involved in tourism or in running a grocery store, you have a responsibility to let people know what's going on," he said.

The story of Saratoga's mineral waters date back to before the formation of the city itself. By the early 19th century, spas had become a fashionable thing for the wealthy to indulge in, with Saratoga at the forefront.

Franklin D. Roosevelt became familiar with Saratoga during his time as governor in the 20th century. As he entered the White House in the early 1930s, a number of buildings would be erected at what today is Saratoga Spa State Park. The first two bathhouses were the Washington - today's National Museum of Dance - and the Lincoln, a building that currently houses the State Park Police. The bath houses in Roosevelt's namesake served as a hospital, a health club complete with mineral baths as well as the setting for a scene in the 1990s film, "The Horse Whisperer."

The mineral water used to be heated and sent to the tubs inside the Roosevelt Bath House. Approximately 20 years ago, the equipment heating the water was removed leaving only cold mineral water running into the tubs. The practice of heating tap water was instituted to mix with the mineral water, keeping the bathing liquid warm.

Dicker estimated he had taken hundreds of baths when he lived in the area, but hadn't immersed himself in them for more than a decade before Saturday afternoon two and a half weeks ago.

"I always loved the baths as a way of relaxing," said Dicker
when reached by telephone Monday night. "I signed up and went in and was surprised to find that the bath was already drawn. Then I got into the tub and it wasn't like the baths of old," he said, realizing they weren't as buoyant as he remembered them as well as noticing the absence of the smell of minerals.

"Those two things together led me to believe there was something very wrong," he said. After investigating, he said he was disappointed to learn that something so fundamental to Saratoga Springs was being altered.

"This is the first complaint that I've heard in 19-1/2 years," said Shawn Goodway, general manager of the Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa, which is operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts.
The Roosevelt Baths and Spa were recently renovated and opened in the summer of 2004. A 20-minute bath costs $20 and Goodway said as far as he knew, the current company continued the practice of heating the tap water that had existed before he got there. There are 42 tubs at the Roosevelt Spa, each having two spigots. One releases the cold mineral water into the tub, the other, tap water which is heated by a pair of units in the basement at 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We knew about the water at the Roosevelt," said Louise Goldstein, co-founder of the Save the Victoria Pool Society.
"We've been trying to bring it to the park's attention for years, but they just said, 'Oh, it's fine,' and act like we were crazy," she said. "It is among the greatest architecture in the country, but all they do is cut back on staff so there are less resources in a park that was already being neglected. It's like your car or your body. You have to maintain the infrastructure," she said.

State parks spokeswoman Eileen Larrabee confirmed the method for heating the mineral baths at the park was changed about 20 years ago when the heating system was removed.
"This matter has only recently come to the attention of the new Parks Administration and as of today, we have instructed the concession contractor to ensure that patrons are being notified that the baths are a mix of mineral and tap water," she said. "The public has a right to know the content of the baths and State Parks will be conducting a full review."

"I hope something positive comes out of it," said Public Works Commissioner Thomas McTygue. "It was the Pataki administration that allowed a lot of our state facilities to deteriorate and there has been very little investment in our facilities throughout the entire park," he said.
"With this coming to light, I hope they do an evaluation of the entire state park and create a master plan to start seeing some kind of improvements," he said.

by Thomas Dimopoulos
published by The Saratogian, 2007.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Mekelle said...

Good post.

10:34 AM  

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