SARATOGA SPRINGS Three years of planning, fundraising and red tape culminated Sunday afternoon in the dedication of a new boat pavilion on the shore of Saratoga Lake.
Roughly 40 Saratoga Rowing Association members gathered to see their new 22-by-140-foot structure officially named the Wright Pavilion in honor of the Wright Family Foundation, which donated most of the building costs.
According to association board member Kim Grieco, the new building is a major step forward for the organization.
“Rowing shells are longer than you might think,” she said.
Single person shells, she said, are usually 35 feet long, twice the length of a conventional sea kayak. The eight-seat team shells are 60 feet long. Such craft present a storage problem, especially when there are 40 of them.
“We were storing boats outside,” Grieco said. “These are boats that cost anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.”
This winter those boats will line the walls of Wright Pavilion, safe and dry.
“The Wright Pavilion will hold roughly 65 boats,” association Executive Director Eric Catalano said in a statement. “That will give us much needed storage for the rowing shells we’ve been storing in the elements all these years. They will last longer, give private boat owners access to their boats whenever they want them, and help to clean up our property.”
The pavilion marks a certain amount of growth for the association. It all started, Grieco said, back in the late 1990s with eight local families and a high-school rowing teacher.
“Now we have hundreds of members from 8 to 80 years old,” she said. “We outgrew our first boathouse.”
In a speech at the dedication event, Wright Family Foundation representative Heather Ward said the Saratoga Rowing Association draws 30,000 visitors to the area every year, contributing $5 million to the local economy.
The new building provides plenty of room for growth, which is good because construction was an uphill battle. Grieco described the long painful process of dealing with drainage easements and local building permits.
“We had to get state approval,” she said, “which takes a really long time.”
Then there was the fundraising. The Wright Family Foundation provided most of the money, but the association also went to their members for funds.
Pavilion roof support trusses will be named after more than 90 current and former members who chipped in.