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Budget affects state park access

The Peerless Swimming Pool at Saratoga Spa State Park will be closed on Tuesdays this summer, as the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation makes adjustments to account for a decrease in funding for parks.

Spa State Park's Victoria Pool will remain open seven days a week.

The office announced cutbacks to approximately 100 parks and historic sites across the state on Thursday, April 9. The facilities will suffer reduced hours or services, though none will be closed outright. Fees at all of the sites will remain at their current levels.

State Parks, like all state agencies, is responding to the current economic realities, said parks office Commissioner Carol Ash. "We have been charged with making many difficult decisions and the changes we announce today are among them."

"We've tried to put the plan together in a way that will not inconvenience people greatly," said Robert Kuhn, assistant regional director for the Saratoga-Capital Region at the office of parks, recreation and historic preservation. "We've tried to do it in a way that doesn't close any parks, that was the highest priority."

The Saratoga-Capital Region had its funding reduced by $300,000 this year. The region contains ten state parks and ten historical sites.

While access to many sites will be cut back, efforts were made to see that a comparable service was offered nearby, said Kuhn. For example, while the Cherry Plain swimming beach will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays, swimming will be available at Grafton Lakes State Park.

A tight budget also caused the parks office to suspend the 2009 Empire State Summer Games, a statewide version of the Olympics. Operating the games cost $3 million annually, $2.7 million of which was provided by state aid. Winter games are planned to resume in February in Buffalo.

Other parks and historical sites in and around Capital Region affected include:

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