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SARATOGA SPRINGS: More than horses at stake

Woerner has assembled these groups and individuals into the Race Course Preservation Coalition, which has been joined by the state Preservation League. The league will help the coalition reach out to local officials in surrounding municipalities, which in turn can lobby Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the state Legislature to incorporate certain conditions into the racing franchise contract.

The coalition proposes a four-pronged approach to protect the historic Saratoga Race Course. The coalition would like to compile a complete, updated historic resources inventory identifying all buildings and landscape features and their current condition; incorporate all buildings and landscaped features of historic, architectural or cultural significance into the Union Avenue local historic district; prepare a comprehensive facilities management plan including design standards for the Saratoga Race Course; and establish a formal oversight process to review all renovations, additions or demolitions at the Saratoga Race Course.

The current franchise holder has made an effort to keep preservation at the forefront of facilities management. NYRA's Spa Facilities Manager Charlie Wheeler outlined some of the work done on the track facility at a recent press conference. He said the striped, snow-side roof was encapsulated for preservation, the clubhouse floor was renovated, and three out of five 19th-century barns were plumbed and restored.

"I challenge you to se if you can tell which of those barns are the originals and which we restored," he said.

Wheeler, in his first full season since joining NYRA late last summer, said most of the work was done by in-house and local crews.

"I'm privileged and honored to be in charge of maintaining this majestic and historic venue," he said.

The City Council has scheduled a public hearing at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, on expanding the local historic district to include the Oklahoma Training Track and its surrounding buildings on the north side of Union Avenue.

The Saratoga Race Course on the south side of Union Avenue is already in the local historic district, and the city's Design Review Commission oversees changes.""

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