Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Lincoln Avenue home of Saratoga Springs native Frank Sullivan will be designated a national literary landmark and his writings selected as the focus for the SaratogaReads! community-wide reading and discussion initiative in 2017.

Affectionately known as the “Sage of Saratoga,” Sullivan was born in 1892 and graduated from Saratoga Springs High School in 1910. After graduating from Cornell University and serving as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War 1, Sullivan relocated to New York City where he worked as a journalist and contributor to the New York World and The Saturday Evening Post. As a humorist, his annual Christmas poems and articles appeared in The New Yorker magazine for a half-century.

“He was a great wit and he was part of the Algonquin Round Table,” said William Kennedy, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author known for his “Albany Cycle” of novels. “He started off a newspaper man like I did and he wound up working for the New York World. He loved The World. That was a newspaper that produced guys like Heywood Broun and Franklin P. Adams and its editor was Herbert Bayard Swope.”

Swope played a key role in launching Sullivan’s life work as a humorist, rather than in hard news. Early in his career, Sullivan had “scooped” the rest of the New York media by reporting the death of a popular society woman. As it turned out, the woman was not dead after all. “You’re too emotional for the news columns,” Swope supposedly told Sullivan. “From now on, you’re writing funny stuff exclusively.” 

“It was a great newspaper and when it died in 1931, he was devastated by it,” Kennedy said. “He wrote a piece about it called ‘Thoughts Before the Undertaker Came,’ and he closed out by saying, ‘When I die I want to go where The World has gone, and work on it again.’ That’s a lovely quote.”

Sullivan grew up in Saratoga Springs on White Street and on Lincoln Avenue, where he played rubber ball games like Roly-Poly on the then-unpaved sidewalks of the neighborhood, and worked as a pump boy carrying water to bookmakers and earning $10 to $15 a day, tax-free.

Sullivan’s childhood home was at Lincoln Avenue and High Street – just east of present-day Siro’s. It was one of a half-dozen homes either moved to different locations, or torn down altogether to expand the racecourse. In 1975, city Mayor Ray Watkin introduced a resolution that recognized Sullivan’s contribution “making Saratoga Springs famous all over the world,” and authorized the renaming of High Street to Frank Sullivan Place.

Sullivan returned to Saratoga Springs and settled down at his home at 135 Lincoln Ave., where he lived for several decades. He was a regular shopper at the Five Points grocery store, found relaxation in visits to the Yaddo Gardens, and frequented the Saratoga Race Course, where in the summer of 1967 a race was named in his honor.

“We’re very excited to be part of a revival in interest in one of Saratoga Springs’ own literary luminaries,” said Saratoga Springs Public Library Director Issac Pulver. “Given the current state of civil discourse, we believe a little levity in the form of Frank Sullivan’s gentle but incisive wit, is exactly what’s called for at the moment.” A series of SaratogaReads! related performances, discussions, lectures, and film presentations will take place between December 2016 and March 2017.

At the same time, United for Libraries, in partnership with Empire State Center for the Book, will dedicate Sullivan’s adult home on Lincoln Avenue as a literary landmark. More than 150 Literary Landmarks have been dedicated across the country since the program began in the 1980s; Tennessee Williams’ home in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Edgar Allen Poe home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were among the first.

Perhaps Sullivan’s most celebrated character was his creation of the noted cliche expert, Mr. Arbuthnot. Asked what he did for exercise, Mr. Arbuthnot replied, “I keep the wolf from the door, let the cat out of the bag, take the bull by the horns, count my chickens before they are hatched, and see that the horse isn't put behind the cart or stolen before I lock the barn door.”

“He accumulated all the clichés of the world,” Kennedy said. “It was hilarious.”

 

Sullivan, a lifelong bachelor, died in early 1976 at Saratoga Hospital at the age of 83.

Friday, 28 October 2016 20:47

Notes From City Hall

Affordable Housing Following initial discussions with the city Planning Board in September, members of Sustainable Saratoga were set to return to City Hall and meet with the board this week regarding the SPA Housing Ordinance – a proposal for “inclusionary zoning” first floated a decade ago, but never brought to a vote by the City Council. The proposal would require new housing developments and apartment complexes across the city to include some units deemed affordable to people with lower to moderate incomes. The number of designated affordable units per project would vary from 10 percent for low-income households to 20 percent for moderate-income households. To compensate developers, the program would allow them to increase the density of housing projects by up to 20 percent. The inclusionary-zoning proposal will be sent back to the City Council after the city and county planning boards complete their reviews of the proposal. The council may then schedule public hearings on the plan. Upcoming Meetings The City Council will host a 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 1. The pre-agenda meeting will take place Monday, Oct. 31 at 9:30 a.m. The Design Review Commission will host a 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Beyond City Hall – Code Blue In these pages last week, we told you exclusively about the Salvation Army’s decision to not host the Code Blue emergency shelter for a third winter season. The emergency shelter will open at Soul Saving Station, on Caroline and Henry streets, as early as Nov. 1. The official statement from the Salvation Army in Saratoga County, issued this week, reads in part: “The Salvation Army corps building at 27 Woodlawn Avenue is not structurally designed to continue established Salvation Army programs and ministries and host the Code Blue Shelter during the winter season,” said Major Steven Lopes, chief executive officer of the Capital Region Salvation Army. “We understand that this is a difficult situation,” said Lieutenant Bree Barker, pastor and administrator of the Saratoga Springs Salvation Army. “As members of the community, as well as a member of the advisory board for Code Blue, we will do all that we can, without jeopardizing our core programs, to help. To that end, we have told Code Blue that we will extend our breakfast program during the week until 10 a.m. on weekdays and add a breakfast on Sundays as well for those who seek shelter this winter. We will also work with Code Blue to make showers available to Code Blue participants on a regular basis. And we will be offering the use of our clothes washer and dryer for those who can make use of this service.” Code Blue Saratoga held its own forum at the Saratoga Springs Public Library Tuesday. The event was attended by about 50 people and Shelters of Saratoga Executive Director Michael Finocchi – the lead agent who oversees Code Blue – re-iterated that the new temporary space at Soul Saving Station has ample space to house people who otherwise would be living on the streets. Finocchi also read through a long list of potential Code Blue venues explored during a four-month period, but which did not prove successful for a variety of reasons – scheduling conflicts and financial considerations among them. Those sites included: the Lincoln Baths, the West Side Elks club, NYRA’s womens dormitory, the former Spa City diner building on South Broadway, the state Military Museum on Lake Avenue, the Saratoga Music Hall, and the former Informz building. This year, the shelter will institute a curfew - set for 11 p.m. – for the first time, Finocchi added. The emergency shelter will open at times when the temperature dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Citizen Preparedness Program On Nov. 2 At Maple Avenue Middle School “Citizen Preparedness for Families” - a program presented by the National Guard to provide basic information on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters or emergencies – will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2 at Maple Avenue Middle School. Since 2010, New Yorkers have experienced the devastating impact of hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, floods and blizzards. This presentation has been designed to provide knowledge of how to reduce the impact of disasters and emergencies on families and communities. The event is free and no registration is required. Last month, the city of Saratoga Springs adopted its own Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, which you can read about here: http://www.saratogatodaynewspaper.com/item/5722-hope-for-the-best-prepare-for-the-worst.html

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The steady beat of hammers and nails continues to rain down on Phila Street where workmen are transforming one of America’s most historic cafes – and its immediate surroundings – into a model for the 21st century.    

Caffè Lena, which first opened in May 1960 as a small beatnik coffeehouse, has hosted some of the best-known performers of the folk music scene for more than a half-century. The charm of the 19th century building the café occupies, however, has also resulted in structural misfortunes brought on by the aging architecture.

“When we got the news that our building was going to require major renovation, we had to make a choice,” Caffè Lena Executive Director Sarah Craig said when the historic café faced a should-we-stay, or should-we-go moment. “We decided to stay.”

The board members who operate the intimate club - which had survived generations of changes in public taste, and the death of its guiding founder Lena Spencer in 1989 - launched a $1.5 million capital campaign in 2013, with $1.25 million specifically targeted for renovation. The campaign raised $350,000 in donations and inspired a collaboration with local developer Sonny Bonacio.

The café sold its corner parking lot to Bonacio Construction, which is building a four-story mixed-use building on the former parking site. Bonacio is conducting some renovation work at the café, which includes the construction of an elevator to serve both the coffeehouse and the new building next door. The elevator is anticipated to be operational by next May.

“Bonacio has tried to help us as much as possible in keeping our costs minimal by pairing the jobs together,” Craig said this week. “Right now, all the structural work is done – the roofing and flooring systems, the wiring and framing. The next step are the surfaces you will see: the sheetrock and the wood flooring, the acoustical treatments we’re putting on the ceiling and the windows that need to be put in.”

During the summer the venue shifted its weekend shows to The Grove on Lake Avenue. With a plan to return to the renovated Phila Street café in the fall, the performance schedule was expanded to include a full slate of weekday shows. That re-opening has been pushed back several weeks, compelling Craig to seek a growing list of alternate venues for the time being.

“The original hope was we would be back in October,” she said. “We were moving around before and we’re really going to be moving around a lot more now. For me, as the manager, it’s a radical change, but it is fun in a lot of ways. It’s almost like we’re living the life our musicians live.” 

This weekend’s showcase features David Wilcox on Friday at The Grove at Neumann, and in November Lena’s 18-show road tour makes staging stops at Universal Preservation Hall, The Parting Glass Pub, Spring Street Gallery, Creative Sparks, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs, and the Ndakinna Education Center in Greenfield Center. A full calendar of events is listed on the club’s web site at: http://www.caffelena.org/.

“It’s totally ‘Lena On The Road.’ We’ve gotten through this because the entire community has been generous, from the venues hosting the concerts to the audience who are willing to follow us to all these locations,” said Craig, who joined the Caffè Lena staff in 1995. 

Among other amenities, the renovated venue will include 20 additional seats. The expanded space will help deliver artists with a national profile to the café as well as aid in the development of new audiences, while maintaining the café’s intimacy and preserving its folk legacy.

“A lot of times when you see places go through these transformations, it becomes more of a concert hall. But, the café wanted to remain this intimate folk club,” Craig said.

Lena’s is slated to re-open before the end of the calendar year, although a specific date has not been targeted. The official re-opening celebration is slated to take place next May, when the coffeehouse celebrates its 57th anniversary.

“We’re on track to be back in before the end of this year. Our plan is to be in here and start to do shows and the big fanfare will be next May when the elevator gets here,” Craig said. “Looking at the work that is done now, you just have a feeling of the dimension of the space, and I have to say: It. Feels. Perfect.  

“You can tell that it’s going to sound good, and there’s this feeling that the room is breathing - breathing a sigh of relief. Like for all these years, it was waiting for this.” 

 

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The steady beat of hammers and nails continues to rain down on Phila Street where workmen are transforming one of America’s most historic cafes – and its immediate surroundings – into a model for the 21st century.    

Caffè Lena, which first opened in May 1960 as a small beatnik coffeehouse, has hosted some of the best-known performers of the folk music scene for more than a half-century. The charm of the 19th century building the café occupies, however, has also resulted in structural misfortunes brought on by the aging architecture.

“When we got the news that our building was going to require major renovation, we had to make a choice,” Caffè Lena Executive Director Sarah Craig said when the historic café faced a should-we-stay, or should-we-go moment. “We decided to stay.”

The board members who operate the intimate club - which had survived generations of changes in public taste, and the death of its guiding founder Lena Spencer in 1989 - launched a $1.5 million capital campaign in 2013, with $1.25 million specifically targeted for renovation. The campaign raised $350,000 in donations and inspired a collaboration with local developer Sonny Bonacio.

The café sold its corner parking lot to Bonacio Construction, which is building a four-story mixed-use building on the former parking site. Bonacio is conducting some renovation work at the café, which includes the construction of an elevator to serve both the coffeehouse and the new building next door. The elevator is anticipated to be operational by next May.

“Bonacio has tried to help us as much as possible in keeping our costs minimal by pairing the jobs together,” Craig said this week. “Right now, all the structural work is done – the roofing and flooring systems, the wiring and framing. The next step are the surfaces you will see: the sheetrock and the wood flooring, the acoustical treatments we’re putting on the ceiling and the windows that need to be put in.”

During the summer the venue shifted its weekend shows to The Grove on Lake Avenue. With a plan to return to the renovated Phila Street café in the fall, the performance schedule was expanded to include a full slate of weekday shows. That re-opening has been pushed back several weeks, compelling Craig to seek a growing list of alternate venues for the time being.

“The original hope was we would be back in October,” she said. “We were moving around before and we’re really going to be moving around a lot more now. For me, as the manager, it’s a radical change, but it is fun in a lot of ways. It’s almost like we’re living the life our musicians live.” 

This weekend’s showcase features David Wilcox on Friday at The Grove at Neumann, and in November Lena’s 18-show road tour makes staging stops at Universal Preservation Hall, The Parting Glass Pub, Spring Street Gallery, Creative Sparks, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs, and the Ndakinna Education Center in Greenfield Center. A full calendar of events is listed on the club’s web site at: http://www.caffelena.org/.

“It’s totally ‘Lena On The Road.’ We’ve gotten through this because the entire community has been generous, from the venues hosting the concerts to the audience who are willing to follow us to all these locations,” said Craig, who joined the Caffè Lena staff in 1995. 

Among other amenities, the renovated venue will include 20 additional seats. The expanded space will help deliver artists with a national profile to the café as well as aid in the development of new audiences, while maintaining the café’s intimacy and preserving its folk legacy.

“A lot of times when you see places go through these transformations, it becomes more of a concert hall. But, the café wanted to remain this intimate folk club,” Craig said.

Lena’s is slated to re-open before the end of the calendar year, although a specific date has not been targeted. The official re-opening celebration is slated to take place next May, when the coffeehouse celebrates its 57th anniversary.

“We’re on track to be back in before the end of this year. Our plan is to be in here and start to do shows and the big fanfare will be next May when the elevator gets here,” Craig said. “Looking at the work that is done now, you just have a feeling of the dimension of the space, and I have to say: It. Feels. Perfect.  

 

“You can tell that it’s going to sound good, and there’s this feeling that the room is breathing - breathing a sigh of relief. Like for all these years, it was waiting for this.” 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A lifelong city resident who led efforts to preserve and enhance the oldest cemetery in Saratoga Springs was posthumously honored with the placement of a plaque and the planting of a tree in the Gideon Putnam Burying Ground.

The tree, an American beech, is expected to rise to a height of greater than 50 feet, grow to a spread at maturity of about 40 feet and for generations overlook the west side neighborhood where Eugene Corsale made his home. Corsale engaged the help of the Department of Public Works, local businesses and volunteers, and is credited with providing the leadership through which $120,000 in grant funding was secured to underwrite the restoration of the burial grounds, which had fallen into disrepair.

Graffiti marred the stone wall of the Putnam family plot and trash was strewn about. Broken tombstones were used as skate board ramps and some residents used the dirt paths of the overgrown landscape as a short-cut to Broadway. “The cemetery was ignored, overgrown, and misused,” explained Samantha Bosshart, executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation.

The cemetery was established in 1810 by Gideon Putnam. The Massachusetts-born visionary relocated to the area in his twenties. He laid out a wide street scheme for a broad way, built Saratoga’s first boarding house hotel, and donated a plot of land to be used as a public burial ground. While working atop scaffolding during the construction of nearby Congress Hall, Putnam fell and suffered severe injury. He died a year later. In 1812, he became the first person interred at the cemetery named for him.

In addition to the walled enclosure of the Putnam family plot, hundreds of Saratoga Springs residents were laid to rest at the cemetery through the 1840s. A century later, fewer than half of the original 232 stone markers remained. Accurate records of those buried within were not kept, and the cemetery fell into disrepair. With Corsale’s leadership, stone walls were restored, gravestones cleaned, the landscape trimmed and grass reseeded, and a perimeter fence installed to prevent vandalism.

“What we see here today is in large part (due to) Gene’s legacy,” said Bosshart, choking back tears as she recalled many purposeful visits to her office by Corsale, who died in March 2014 at the age of 85. “Gene would come by, usually with some butterscotch candy or a lollipop he got from the bank, and say: ‘You know what we have to do.’ It was a privilege and an honor to know him.”

The Gideon Putnam burying ground is the city’s oldest cemetery in the city and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as being designated a City Landmark. It was preceded by the Sadler Cemetery, where bodies were first interred in the 18th century, but those bodies were mostly relocated to other cemeteries. The memorial tree was purchased and planted by the Heritage Garden Club with the assistance from Sustainable Saratoga, and a bronze plaque recognizing Corsale was provided by the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation.

Friday, 21 October 2016 14:17

New SPAC President Presents Future Vision

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Elizabeth Sobol leaned against a marble column outside the Hall of Springs. She glanced up at the architecture - detailed more than three-quarters of a century ago by Russian iron-workers, Italian plasterers and Austrian stone cutters - and searched for the words to best express the thoughts inside her head.

“It’s only been a month since my husband and I moved from Miami Beach to Saratoga. And it’s only been eight days since I walked into my office, but the overwhelming sense of magic, the cultural vibrancy I first felt in the city has only deepened,” said the newly minted president and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. “I want to make sure more people experience the epiphany that I’ve had coming here.”

Moments later, the self-described “newcomer with fresh eyes” was formally introduced by SPAC Board chairman Ron Riggi to about two dozen board members and department heads gathered inside the hall’s Gold Room for their annual fall meeting. Sobol told them that she didn’t foresee radical changes taking place in the near future, but wanted to enhance what already exists by both deepening SPAC’s roots in the local community and extending the venue’s presence and visibility beyond the borders of the Capital Region.

“I feel fortunate coming in at this auspicious moment,” Sobol said in succeeding Marcia White, who earlier this year announced she would be retiring after 11 years at SPAC. “It has been a privilege to begin my new role at SPAC fresh off the heels of the 50th anniversary celebration.”

“2016 was very successful with the 50th anniversary and some beautiful weather,” treasurer Tony Ianniello added. No less than 35 special events were staged in conjunction with the venue’s golden anniversary, and audience attendance during the classical season of performances increased 3.4 percent, compared to the previous year. SPAC received more than $5.22 million in capital campaign gifts in honor of the anniversary. The funds will be used to support programming, capital improvements, and SPAC’s endowment fund, according to the organization. “Now we want to dig down and drill deep on how we can improve the numbers – raise more money and decrease expenses,” Ianniello said.

The Board announced membership rates in 2017 will remain at 2016 levels, and next year’s classical season ticket pricing will include a $30 amphitheater ticket, a $10 reduction in select seating from previous seasons. “As we move into the future, we hope to engage new and younger audiences in order to fulfill our mission of sharing world-class performances with the Capital Region community,” Sobol said.

SCHUYLERVILLE — More than 200 area residents, school children, historians and re-enactors gathered on the west bank of the Hudson River Monday morning to celebrate a pivotal anniversary in the birth of the nation.

“Exactly 239 years ago on this very day, in this very place and on this ground where we stand, America had its first victory of the Revolutionary War,” said Amy Bracewell, superintendent at Saratoga National Historical Park and keynote speaker of the Surrender Day gathering at Fort Hardy Park. “This created a snowball effect in the creation of this country.”

The park marks the location where 5,000 British soldiers, accompanied by the lonely beat of a drum, surrendered their arms on the morning of Oct. 17, 1777, following the colonial victories at the battles of Saratoga.

Dressed as members of the Continental Army, a half-dozen re-enactors fired off a booming cannon salute, members of the Daughters and the Sons of the American Revolution presented a laying of wreaths, and a changing of the flags ceremony symbolized American freedom from British rule.

“Our nation was founded on a bold new idea: that a free people in participatory democracy were in the best position to chart the future,” said Democrat Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, who represents the 113th district of New York. Schuylerville Central School District students Tucker Durr and Madelynn Solan read essays about key figures of the Revolutionary War, and the school’s fifth-grade chorus sang “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee.” Students from Salem Central School also attended the ceremony.

A re-enactment of the sword surrender – which occurred a short distance away on state Route 4 - was performed by Saratoga Battlefield Park Ranger and Historian Eric Schnitzer, and Saratoga Town Historian Sean Kelleher, respectively portrayed British Gen. John Burgoyne and colonial Gen. Horatio Gates.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Emergency Shelter Relocation To Caroline Street Appears Set

After spending the past two winters at the Salvation Army building on Woodlawn Avenue, programming conflicts brought on by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order mandating that shelters stay open for longer hours necessitated that Code Blue Saratoga find a new location to house its emergency shelter. More than two dozen potential venues were investigated by Shelters of Saratoga – the agency which oversees Code Blue - before Soul Saving Station in September agreed to allow the shelter to operate at its facility on Caroline and Henry streets from Nov. 1 to April 1, 2017.

Some local business-owners and home-owners located in the Caroline Street area where the shelter would be relocated subsequently voiced concerns regarding safety issues and increased costs and urged the Salvation Army to reconsider and host Code Blue for a third year. The extended hours mandated for shelter use, however, caused the Salvation Army last winter to close its after-school program for at-risk youth – which has operated for 20 years - and affected more than two dozen children, according to a person close to the organization. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release that information late Wednesday night.

Due to the loss of core programming last winter and the continued loss of programming that would occur in the future, the person said the housing of the Code Blue shelter at the Salvation Army was always meant to be a temporary solution, but that the Salvation Army continues working with Code Blue to assist in other ways, such as offering the use of shower facilities and providing breakfast for the homeless population. The emergency shelter is slated to open Nov. 1 and appears be headed for the Caroline Street location.

A community forum regarding Code Blue Saratoga’s 2016-17 season will be held at noon Tuesday, Oct. 25 at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St. The forum will include “an overview of the Code Blue Saratoga program and its policies, followed by a facilitated discussion regarding the upcoming season,” according to a statement released by the organization Friday. 

 

 

Should the council hold public hearings on whether it is in favor, or opposed to Saratoga Springs hosting the gun show?

That’s what one local resident is suggesting. “What I think the City Council needs to do, is take this issue seriously,” local resident David Bronner told council members this week, during the public comment section of the council meeting. “Craft a resolution about the gun show and how you feel about it. Hold public hearings on it, debate it, and vote on it.”

After organizing more than 100 gun shows at the Saratoga Springs City Center over the past 32 years, show promoter David Petronis was informed last summer that the venue would not have any open dates to host the show in the near future, because a greater priority had been placed on securing conference and convention business. Last year, the City Center hosted 75 conferences and conventions, 48 special events or banquets, and 31 gate or trade shows, such as the gun fair. All of these events combined had an attendance of 155,000 people. The City Center’s management officially is independent of city government and to date, the City Council has not officially debated the issue.

A Plan For Going Wireless

A short video was screened and a 70-page booklet distributed at City Hall this week showcasing Saratoga Springs’ Smart City Roadmap. Among the initiatives: a plan to deliver wireless broadband in public spaces to keep residents as well as visitors connected. The Smart City Project Team meets quarterly and Michele Madigan, city representative of the Smart City team, said the commission will begin to tackle plan initiatives in 2017. The roadmap was also posted on the city’s website and may be viewed by visiting: http://www.saratoga-springs.org/DocumentCenter/View/5157.

Public: Protect Character Of Existing Neighborhoods

A zoning diagnostic report was presented to the City Council Tuesday night. The report indicates a strong public desire to protect the character of existing neighborhoods, an enthusiasm to preserve historic structures and an expressed concern over the commercialization of residential neighborhoods. A copy of the October 18 presentation of the Zoning Diagnostic Report may be viewed by visiting: https://saratogaspringsudo.com/.

Budget Hearings

The first of two public hearings regarding the city’s proposed 2017 Comprehensive Budget was staged Tuesday night. No one from the public chose to address the council regarding the spending plan, which may be viewed at: http://www.saratoga-springs.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/5059. The second public hearing will be held Tuesday, Nov. 1 prior to the 7 p.m. City Council meeting.

Complete Streets

Mayor Joanne Yepsen announced the draft copy of the city’s Complete Streets Plan is available for public review at: http://www.saratogaspringscompletestreets.com/. The goal of the plan is to improve safety, connectivity, and accessibility for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit users in city neighborhoods, by incorporating the needs of all modes of transportation.

Zombie Properties

Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen announced the city was awarded a $150,000 grant from the state Attorney General to address vacant and “zombie” properties. The remediation and prevention initiative will include the hiring of a part-time officer and the department will use a multi-tiered approach to identify vacant properties that owe taxes and those that are in disrepair, and issue citations to enforce measures.

Overriding The Tax Cap

The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors this week decided to delay a vote on whether to override the 2 percent property tax cap in 2017. Only two area residents addressed the board during Tuesday’s meeting in Ballston Spa. The vote is expected to take place next month, said city Supervisor Matthew Veitch.

Upcoming Meetings

The Zoning Board of Appeals will host a meeting 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24 at City Hall. The Charter Review Commission will host a meeting 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25 at City Hall. The Planning Board will host a meeting 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 at City Hall. The pre-meeting workshop will take place 5 p.m. Monday.

Saratoga Springs Smart City Commission Presents Roadmap To Broadband Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan, along with independent technology consulting company NYSTEC, will present Smart City Roadmap 1.0 during Tuesday night’s meeting of the City Council. Roadmap 1.0 is the culmination of work by the Smart City Commission over the past six months, and will help leverage existing broadband infrastructure and funding streams to foster sustainable economic growth and enhance the quality of life for all residents, according to Madigan. “Addressing infrastructure needs - fiber, cable, wifi - lays the foundation of a Smart City. The way we use that foundation - emergency management, energy and electricity, transportation, business economy, sustainability - defines us as an Intelligent Community,” Madigan said, in a statement. The Smart City Commission Members appointed by Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan: Assistant Superintendent for the Saratoga Springs School District David L’Hommedieu; Vice President and CIO of Saratoga Hospital John Mangona; Saratoga Springs Public Library Computer Services Manager Donald Flinton; Skidmore College CIO William Duffy; Empire State College CIO Christopher Markham; National Grid Program Manager Kimberly Ireland; City of Saratoga Springs Director of IT Kevin Kling; Members at Large: Art Ware, Tim Holmes, Christopher Thompson; Matt Jones and Todd Shimkus of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce; Todd Garofano and Tom Newkirk of the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau. Saratoga Springs County Supervisor Matthew Veitch, Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership President Martin Vanags. UDO Summary Report Makes Its Way To The City Council Twelve months ago, the city began work on a Unified Development Ordinance. By definition, UDO is a tool which combines traditional zoning and subdivision regulations along with other development standards for items such as design guidelines, stormwater management, and signs or street standards, into an easy-to-read reference document. The UDO is intended to eliminate redundant or conflicting code provisions, help streamline the review and approval process, and clarify steps and requirements. Initial community meetings began taking place in February and a Zoning Diagnostic Report – a summary of the major issues, in advance of the UDO - may be read at: https://saratogaspringsudo.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/16_0829-zoning_diagnostic_final-draft2.pdf. The document has been making its way through the city’s Land Use Boards, and on Oct. 18 is expected to be discussed by the City Council. City Center Parking Garage Modifications Get DRC Approval The Design Review Commission unanimously approved a modification to the design of the proposed Saratoga Springs City Center Parking structure. “We’ve had an enlightening development in our project - a modest modification of the south façade,” City Center Authority President Mark Baker told DRC members during its meeting at City Hall last week. Improvements include an “opening up” of the building corner at street level to better signify the new main entrance of the building, and the incorporation of a frameless glass system. Budget Season Underway Public budget workshops will take place at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19, and Monday, Oct. 24 at City Hall. The city’s proposed operating budget in 2017 will top $45.5 million – an approximate three percent increase over 2016 – but will contain no increase in taxes for city taxpayers, as proposed by city Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan. The $45.52 million plan marks an increase of $1.51 million over the 2016 budget, with contractual wages and health insurance accounting for nearly all of the change. The first of two public hearings will take place at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18, in advance of the City Council meeting. The council must adopt a budget by Nov. 30; if it doesn’t, the proposed comprehensive budget will become the 2017 adopted budget. The 2017 budget proposal can be viewed on the city’s website at www.saratoga-springs.org. Upcoming City Meetings: City Council - 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18. Pre-agenda meeting – 9:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 17. Design Review Commission Meeting – 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Friday, 07 October 2016 15:01

Artists Raise Funds For Preservation

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A portrait of ladies lunching at a Broadway café stood near a framed sketch of a pair of pink ballet slippers.

Landscapes of Yaddo, the racecourse and Universal Preservation Hall were accompanied by displays of Caffe Lena, Congress Park and an abundance of thoroughbreds portrayed in oil, watercolor, and digital print.

More than 140 different art works inspired by the spirit of Saratoga Springs were exhibited inside the historic Canfield Casino, depicting a varied vision through the eyes of 60 different artists. The inspiration of the exhibit was the 2016 TRASK Art Show and Sale, a popular art auction that provides vital funding for the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation in their ongoing efforts to preserve Saratoga Springs through restoration projects. Those efforts include the recent successful completion of the restoration of the Spirit of Life and Spencer Trask Memorial in Congress Park – a piece initially commissioned by Katrina and George Foster Peabody, after Spencer Trask’s death in 1909.

Spencer is largely credited with preserving the Spa’s spring waters, and along with wife Katrina bequeathed their 55-room mansion and adjoining grounds on Union Avenue to artists of all kinds. Since 1926, their Yaddo estate has welcomed more than 6,000 visiting artists.

Ironically, Trask’s anti-gambling stance put him at odds with John Morrissey, who established his gaming house in Congress Park and the venue where the TRASK Art Show and Sale was staged. A $500 prize for Best in Show was awarded to Matt Chinian for his oil and canvas display titled: Juniper Swamp.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and selling paintings is nearly impossible, so this is a big boost,” said the artist from Cambridge, who specializes in painting outdoor scenes. Artists Robert Whiting Chris O’Leary and Dave Papa each received honorable mention. Ian Berry, director of the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, and Kathy Greenwood, director of the Art and Culture Program at Albany International Airport, served as show judges. Artists received 50 percent of their artwork’s sale price, with the balance of sales benefiting restoration projects and ongoing efforts to preserve Saratoga Springs. The event was attended by 250 people. A final tally of funds raised during the event was not yet available.

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