City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
The Design Review Commission will host a meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20 at City Hall. Among the items on the Commission’s agenda:
- A review of a new six-story Hotel and Spa at 19 Washington St. that will connect to the Adelphi Hotel. Note, this is different than the existing Adelphi hotel, which is slated to open any day now and which you can read more about here: https://saratogatodaynewspaper.com/home/item/7174-adelphi-hotel-set-to-open-in-september-additional-structure-also-proposed
- The DRC is also expected to issue an Advisory Opinion for the proposed 120 Henry Street Condominium Project. Plans for that project call for the development of a five-story condominium building to house 30 units with 70 total bedrooms to be located at 120 Henry St., on subdivided land adjacent to the Four Seasons market.
- Finally, a Historic Review will be conducted of a proposal for an addition to the Rip Van Dam Hotel, which is located at 353 Broadway. Plans call for a six-story addition - with a swimming pool and restaurant on the top floor and 152 rooms in all - to rise to a height of 70 feet on Washington Street behind the four-story brick hotel and the Starbucks café on Broadway. (See picture above). To learn more about the proposal, visit the city's web site here: http://saratoga-springs.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/2135?fileID=8995.
Other Meetings This Week:
The Mayor’s Seniors Advisory Committee will host a forum 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Monday at Empire State College, 2 Union Ave. Public officials will address top concerns of seniors, including healthcare, housing and transportation. Anticipated speakers include: Congressman Paul Tonko, Sen. Kathy Marchione, City Supervisors Peter Martin and Matt Veitch, Mayor Joanne Yepsen, Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen and representatives from the offices of Sen. James Tedisco, and Assembly member Carrie Woerner.
The City Council will host a pre-agenda meeting 9:30 a.m. Monday, and a full meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
The Charter Review Committee will host a meeting 7 p.m. Monday, location TBD.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A number of fake Confederate States of America bills were discovered at the Saratoga Springs Public Library recently. An unknown quantity were found wedged inside of books shelved in the library’s section of literature related to the Holocaust, according to a library employee.
The “bills” share a general similarity with the original 500-dollar notes in style and imaging - including a profile of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson. The new “bills” were amended to include passages from the Bible and multiple images of the Star of David.
“It’s disheartening to see this going on in our community,” said city Police Lt. Bob Jillson.
The materials were reported to police on Aug. 16 and the incident logged as “unknown subject placed anti-Semitic literature into books at library.”
The local incident immediately followed a weekend during which some white nationalists converged on Charlottesville, Virginia and chanted Nazi slogans to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. That weekend concluded with one alleged Nazi sympathizer being accused of driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring several others who opposed the rally.
Local authorities said there aren’t any leads regarding the placement of the phony bills into the books, and that the event seems to be an isolated incident.
“This is one more message of hate that is very unfortunate,” said Mayor Joanne Yepsen. “Our city is an inclusive and welcoming city and there is no place for any anti-Semitic action or words in Saratoga Springs.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A lineup of legendary athletes will take part in a day of music, food and sport at Saratoga Casino Saturday, Sept. 23.
A celebrity softball game will take place at noon on the field just off the casino’s Crescent Avenue entrance. Tickets are $10, kids 12 and under admitted free and a portion of the softball ticket sales benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region.
A VIP Brunch will take place at Vapor from 9 – 11 a.m. Tickets are $60 and on sale by calling 518-581-5775.
Live music - provided by Skeeter Creek, and the Refrigerators, and an autograph and memorabilia show will take place 1:30 – 5 p.m. Pricing varies by athlete.
Among those scheduled to appear: Wade Boggs, Jose Canseco, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, Mickey Rivers, Ozzie Smith; Otis Anderson, Lawrence Taylor; Angel Cordero, Jean Cruguet, Ron Turcotte.
To purchase tickets and for more information about the events, go to: https://saratogacasino.com/event/star-sports-festival/.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A crowd of more than 200 people, comprised of area residents, members of the city’s fire and police departments, local government representatives and the Saratoga Springs High School Choraliers gathered at High Rock Park on Sept. 11, 2017 for the city’s annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony.
City Mayor Joanne Yepsen offered the following comments: “It was 16 years ago today our country was devastated by shock and fear, even though we woke up to a perfectly normal morning,” said the mayor, recalling the blue-sky Tuesday that would take a violent turn.
“The attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives left scars on millions of others. We kept watching our televisions, watching the horror of that day, detail after detail. But then, we watched something else begin to happen. We saw ourselves, a diverse and wide-ranging nation of individuals with different ideas, values and backgrounds, and we became strong together. Unified and supportive of one another,” Yepsen said.
For many of us, the most powerful memory of that day in September is the way we worked together, in any way that we could.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Sachal Ensemble – whose story of traditional musicians trying to survive under the oppression of modern day Pakistan was told in the film “Song of Lahore” - will perform at Proctors Oct. 28 and at SPAC’s Spa Little Theatre on Oct. 30.
The film, “Song of Lahore,” will also be screened at Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas in Saratoga Springs on Sunday, Oct. 29. The film, by two-time Academy Award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken, illustrates how their music-making not only brought inspiration to their lives, but literally sustained them in their struggles – and how, finally, they were discovered on YouTube by Wynton Marsalis and brought to the US for performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
In one of the most poignant moments of the film, Nijat Ali, conductor of the Sachal Ensemble says, “we want to show the world that Pakistanis are artists, not terrorists.”
Tickets for the performance at SPAC’s Little Theatre start at $40. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit: spac.org.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - During a targeted enforcement operation, deportation officers with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations arrested “eight unlawfully present adults” on Sept. 11 in Saratoga Springs, according to a statement issued by the federal agency.
The eight men, all citizens of Mexico, are between the ages of 20 and 49, and allegedly face administrative immigration violations. One of the men is suspected of illegally re-entering the United States after having been previously removed, which is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.
Those arrested will be held in ICE custody at the Albany County Correctional Facility, pending transfer to the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility.
The agency also issued the following statement: “All recent enforcement operations in this region are a part of routine, daily targeted operations conducted by ICE here around the country every day, targeting criminal aliens and other immigration violators. These efforts will continue.”
Deportation officers with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations reported arresting 26 men in Saratoga Springs in May and June.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Thin and delicate and with a flurry of leaves wrapped around its crown, a baby tree was planted this week at High Rock Park. A symbol of hope and resiliency, its fast-growing branches are expected to sprout a profusion of white five-petal flowers and rise to a height of 30 feet.
“I think it’s an appropriate addition to this site,” said Department of Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco, standing in the morning shadow cast by the five twisted and sculpted pieces of World Trade Center steel nearby. “It’s a living memorial of a tragedy. A survivor tree. It shows the resilience of the American people.”
The tree planted in Saratoga Springs was grown from a seedling of a Callery pear tree which stands in Lower Manhattan and became known as the "Survivor Tree" after enduring the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. It was the last living thing recovered from Ground Zero.
Severely damaged with snapped roots and burned and broken branches, the original tree was removed from the rubble of Ground Zero, cared for and nurtured by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and re-planted near the memorial pool that occupies the footprint of the South Tower.
In 2013, a 9/11 Survivor Tree Seedling program was launched to distribute seedlings to communities that site a 9/11 memorial – such as Saratoga Springs - or communities which have endured tragedy in recent years, such as Newtown, Connecticut - in memory of the 26-people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Madrid, Spain, in memory of the 190 people killed in coordinated terror bombings against that city’s commuter train system.
The baby trees are individually numbered and overseen by the 9/11 Memorial & Museum Foundation. The one in High Rock is tagged as number 345 and represents the latest addition in what the DPW calls Saratoga Springs’ 9/11 Memorial Park, in High Rock Park.
The city’s annual remembrance ceremony, hosted by Mayor Joanne Yepsen, will be staged at the park at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. A moment of silence will be observed at 8:46 a.m. to symbolize the time when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
The Tempered by Memory sculpture, which stands 25 feet tall, was created by artists Noah Savett and John Van Alstine and is comprised of five metal pieces from the World Trade Center. Four of the pieces came from the North Tower - distinguished by the antenna on its roof - and one steel beam came from the South Tower. Saratoga Arts commissioned the sculpture. Much public debate followed regarding the placement of the sculpture. Locations in front of the Saratoga Springs City Center, and at the Visitors Center were considered. The sculpture was eventually placed at High Rock Park in 2012.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – An iconic Broadway hotel that harkens back to Saratoga Springs’ grand Victorian Era appears finally ready to reopen following an extensive five-year renovation and a project cost of approximately $30 million.
“We feel this is a process and a labor love and we needed to take as long as it needed to take to make it as perfect as possible. That perfection means detailed craftmanship with every cut, every tile and every piece hand-laid and hand-measured,” said Adelphi Hotel COO Michel Ducamp.
“To do anything less would have been a discredit to the city of Saratoga Springs and to the building – which deserves to be renovated completely and thoroughly with no-holds barred and no corners cut,” said Ducamp, standing on Broadway in front of the hotel in the gleam of an afternoon sun that illuminated the copper face of the hotel’s street-side bar named after Saratoga legend John Morrissey. The one-time world heavyweight champion, congressman, and founder of Saratoga’s thoroughbred race course died of pneumonia at the hotel a year after it opened, and was laid in state in the second-floor parlor that opened onto the piazza.
The Adelphi first opened in 1877. More recently, it was purchased for $4.5 million by RBC Hotels - a hotel management company owned by Richbell Capital LLC- and closed following the summer 2012 season for what was anticipated to be an 18-month renovation. As construction got underway, however, it became apparent that extensive reconstruction would be required.
“With a building its age, one never knows what one may find,” Ducamp said. Richbell Capital and Blue Skies Forever subsequently partnered to create a new luxury hospitality company called The Adelphi Hospitality Group, and additional properties located on Washington Street just west of Broadway and adjacent to the Adelphi were purchased. A plan presented to the city this week calls for an additional six-story hotel and spa with an indoor swimming pool and 50 rooms to be developed adjacent to the Adelphi on the Washington Street side, near UPH. It will be connected in name to the Adelphi as well as physically connected as part of the expanding complex.
“Were trying to create, especially on the room side, a luxury hotel that is so special and different that we’ll be attracting people from New York, from Boston, from Montreal. We’re not competing with our sister hotels in town,” Ducamp said. “We’re bringing more people to Saratoga Springs who will not only stay in our hotel and dine with us, but will go out to the street. They’ll want to clothes shopping, they’ll want to go to SPAC, to the races, and to the shops.“
Inside there is an “old/new” conception that boasts custom designed lobby chandeliers, entryway glass, and restored antiques refurbished in modern fabrics.
“Unfortunately, we pretty much had to gut the building because it was pretty dilapidated. We couldn’t keep very much of it, but we kept what we could. We wanted to keep the Victorian grandeur and at the same time make it appropriate for the 21st century,” Ducamp said. “We did keep the staircase. That is all original and it is spectacular. It was made of American walnut from 1877 from the forest outside of Saratoga Springs.”
The hotel stands four stories tall, the uppermost three floors with 11 rooms each, of which four are suites. There are 32 rooms in all - the variance due to the equivalent of one room being converted into a hotel guest library.
The rooms are equipped with individual thermostats which heat the bathroom floors, the towel bar, the toilet seat and the mirror. Almost all have free-standing European style deep-soaking tubs and a separate shower in the porcelainized Italian stone and marble bathroom. An integrated room automation system operates independent lighting fixtures, shades and drapes via a control panel.
Room sizes vary from about 375 to 550 square feet and costs range from the high $200s or $300s in the winter and $800 to $1,200 in the summer. Suite rates are different and are sized up to 685 square feet and feature a large veranda overlooking Broadway.
Last year, the company opened Salt & Char - a modern luxury steakhouse. Inside the hotel, the owners will open Morrissey’s – which holds additional seasonal seating for about 40 people outdoors on Broadway - and the Blue Hen fine dining restaurant, which sits towards the back end of the lobby. Morrissey’s, like Salt & Char will offer lunch and dinner and the Blue Hen will offer breakfast and dinner. Outdoor seasonal seating aside, all will be open year-round. “The food will be exceptionally good, fairly-priced and unique,” Ducamp said.
The main floor will also feature a large ballroom, the front of which will serve as a social gathering place. At the rear will be the re-created the Adelphi Garden, which is anticipated to open next spring.
“It’s for everybody and very relaxed. People can walk in off the street sit down and chat,” Ducamp explained. “If you’d like to have a cup of coffee in the morning or a cocktail in the afternoon – that’s nice. If you’d like to have a business meeting, that’s great too. It’s purely a gathering place for everybody. We want to make sure people in Saratoga Springs feel welcome. It’s a piece of the city, it’s a part of our culture and we want to make sure that people feel welcome and at home.”
Food and beverage pricing will be reasonable, Ducamp said. “This is a building that goes beyond ownership of a physical asset. This is a cultural asset a cultural icon for the city and it would be shameful if we did not make it completely accessible to local residents.”
There are hand-carved mahogany and walnut mirrors in the hallway dating to the original hotel in the 1870s, custom-designed wall patterns exclusive to the hotel, an original raw steel support pole that travels along a north-south path through the floors, and a massive mahogany-and-walnut staircase that was painstakingly disassembled and completely restored.
“All of the wall coverings, all of the light fixtures, all fabrics are custom-designed, or are original. It’s not something that you can find in any store.”
There is a focus on sustainability both in the guest rooms and in the food and beverage detail, where non-GMO products are provided nearly entirely by local farmers, and everything is completely composted.
The exterior colors of the hotel very closely match the colors of the Adelphi in 1877, before the 20th century color palette moved toward darker colors and the rooms incorporate vintage glassware, hatboxes and magazines – the latter dating to at least the 1920s, as well as Italian linens and lighted makeup mirrors. The beds incorporate custom-designed linens made in Italy, a unique artistic pattern that matches the wall coverings. and a 1-1/2-inch-thick mattress topper made of a product comprised of the processed bark of a eucalyptus tree that was grown in a biodynamic and sustainable forest in Austria.
“It’s absolutely divine and there’s nothing like it. Once you get in, you’ll never want to get out,” Ducamp said. “In three weeks, we hope to open. It’s getting very, very close.”
This week, the New York Department of Health released information regarding their surveillance efforts in Saratoga County for ticks testing positive for tick-borne illnesses. Of the 2,700 ticks collected for testing in 2017, 22 ticks from five locations, tested positive for Powassan, including ticks collected at Saratoga National Historical Park.
The Powassan virus is a rare viral disease that can cause symptoms ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to life threatening encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). The disease remains extremely rare in New York State with only 26 confirmed cases since 2000. Only three confirmed human cases of Powassan virus have been identified in New York State this year, all located in Saratoga County.
The Department of Health plans to continue their surveillance and testing in the fall with the collection of adult ticks from many of the same sites, as well as collection and testing of blood from hunter-killed deer for previous exposure to Powassan. Additional education programs for hunters, school districts, and libraries will be developed through various state offices.
The Center for Disease Control advises people to use insect repellent when going outside. Walking in the center of trails and avoiding high grass and brush at trail edges will also reduce your chances of encountering ticks. Check for ticks daily on yourself, your children, and your pets and shower soon after being outdoors. If you do find an attached tick, carefully remove with fine point tweezers and watch for symptoms. Consult with your doctor if any symptoms arise.
For more information about tick safety and tick-borne illnesses, see the CDC’s website on ticks: www.cdc.gov/ticks. -
Public Hearing Sept. 5 to Amend Street Performer Ordinance
A Public Hearing will take place 6:55 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at City Hall - just prior to the council’s next scheduled meeting - to amend the Street Performer ordinance, which regulates street performers and was originally adopted in 2015. (That ordinance may be viewed here: http://www.saratoga-springs.org/documentcenter/view/2595 ). Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo is currently crafting the amendment.
The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. during which the council may take action regarding the acquisition of property by the use of eminent domain as it relates to the proposed Geyser Road Trail.
City Approves 2018-2023 Capital Budget
The Council voted 4 -1 to approve the city’s six-year Capital Budget Program, which counts 26 projects at a cost of $11 million – nearly all of it to be bonded - for the year 2018.
Madigan voted against the measure, consistent with a r stance she has taken in previous years, explaining that she feels the Commissioner of Finance needs to have flexibility regarding the budget as the city operates under a 2 percent tax cap, and that the budget has an impact on the property tax rate.
The costliest project, ranked #14 on the 2018 priority list, recommends $3 million be set aside for the design and construction of an East Side Fire and EMS facility. The public safety project has long been on the city’s radar as a supplement to its two other existing stations, which are located near downtown Saratoga Springs, and on the city’s west side. Land has not yet been acquired for the land necessary for the project. “To require to bond for this is premature,” Madigan noted.
The two other seven-digit cost proposals for 2018 are capital improvements of the Kaydeross Avenue West Pipe - a $1.2 million DPW request - and the addition of a radio tower in the city, which ranks number 1 overall on the project list and calls for $1.3 million to be bonded.
The water pipe upgrade indicates that the water mains on Route 9 and Nelson Avenue Extension are undergoing “severe external corrosion,” according to the Department of Public Works, which proposes a four-year program be implemented to replace the main and “avoid catastrophic failure.” The city has approximately 150 miles of municipal water mains – about 20 miles of which in the core of the city is comprised of cast iron pipe more than a century old and is in need of replacement, according to the DPW.
The radio tower project signifies efforts by the Public Safety Department and the Safety Committee to correct significant communication deficiencies in the city's emergency communications systems and existing “life safety issues” that currently exist with community emergency communications, according to the DPS. The roof of the Stonequist Apartments complex is under consideration as a potential location to site the tower.
Spa Solar Park Gets its Day in the Sun
Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan announced the 2.5-megawatt solar array, The Spa Solar Park, will be fully energized this week. A public ribbon-cutting ceremony and community celebration is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Sept. 12 – time to be determined – at the site on the city’s landfill. “This has been a long time coming,” Madigan told the council this week.
The City received support for the Spa Solar Park development from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) through the Governor’s NY-Sun Competitive PV Program. The landfill is city-owned property with otherwise limited use. The project is environmentally sound. The solar panels will be sufficient to match approximately 40 percent of the city’s energy requirements.
City Receives $2.3 Million VLT Aid
In her submission to the council of the city’s Second Quarter Financial Report of 2017, Madigan noted VLT aid was received June 30 and represents full payment for the year. The $2,325,592 received in 2017 was equal to the amount received the previous year.
Commissioner Chris Mathiesen announced the Public Safety Department will host a Public Safety Forum at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13 in the City Council Room at City Hall.