Larry Goodwin

Larry Goodwin

News & Business Reporter, Editor
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Tuesday, 21 November 2017 21:13

Judge Delays City Plan to Start Geyser Trail

The Avenue of the Pines recreation trail. Photo by Larry Goodwin. 

BALLSTON SPA - The City of Saratoga Springs was dealt a setback this week in its attempts to seize properties through eminent domain proceedings, as a means to start construction of the Geyser Road recreational trail. 

On Monday, according to a statement provided by attorney Karl Sleight of the law firm Harris Beach, state Supreme Court Judge Robert J. Chauvin issued a 60-day stay that "prevents the city from taking title" to properties on Geyser Road owned by the Saratoga Spring Water Company, the Pompay family and the Village of Ballston Spa.

Those three "petitioners" are represented by Sleight in a lawsuit filed this October in the state Appellate Division in Albany. The petitioners are "seeking a review of the City's compliance with environmental and eminent domain procedures," Sleight said. 

For nearly 10 years, outgoing Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen and many residents have strongly supported construction of the recreation trail (among them dozens of homeowners in Geyser Crest, in the city's outer district). Plans call for it to be built on the north side of Geyser Road in a manner similar to the popular Avenue of the Pines trail east of Route 50. Proponents say it will provide runners and bikers with a vital link between the city's other trails and the Town of Milton.

Yet Sleight said city officials "plowed forward" with eminent domain proceedings against his clients, calling Monday's ruling by Chauvin "a very big win" that would allow the Appellate Divsion case to proceed without complication. Chauvin's 60-day stay expires on Jan. 19, 2018.   

Earlier this year, Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano voiced concerns about the increased risk of public access to the village's property and water infrastructure. Some of those pipes, he said, are located underground where the Geyser Road trail would be built.

Other local residents have criticized the plan because of the dangers posed to trail users by heavy tractor trailer traffic connected to the W.J. Grande Industrial Park. 

Sleight said he strongly recommends that the city reconsider a proposal made this summer by the Saratoga Eagle and Slack Chemical companies to access 54 acres of land they own to build the trail, rather than proceed with the Geyser Road plan. He called it "the Duplainville Woods alternative." 

"Spending taxpayer dollars on constructing the safer, Duplainville Woods alternative would seem wiser than litigating this and possibly ending up with no trail at all," Sleight said. 

[Readers are encouraged to post respectful comments regarding the article below.]  

       

Tuesday, 21 November 2017 21:06

Target Shooters on Notice in Wilton

A tin can with bullet holes found in the Louden Road nature preserve in Wilton; and signs posted in the parking area. Photos by Larry Goodwin. 

BALLSTON SPA – Apparently, in a wooded area east of the Wilton Mall, what one town resident calls “common sense” does not deter gun enthusiasts from disturbing nearby homeowners by shooting trees and cans at will. 

This week, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors voted to officially ban target shooting in the natural preserve, which occupies 60-plus acres of county-owned land in Wilton.

New signs have been placed to discourage gun owners and the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department will enforce the ban, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

The woods are popular among local residents for walking trails. But many have voiced complaints to town and county officials about a sharp increase—over several years—in the noises and inherent dangers associated with the daily presence of target shooters. 

“The last three years have been hell for everybody,” claimed Carlyle Terrace resident Kyle Fillion, during a Nov. 15 public hearing that focused on the matter at the county complex in Ballston Spa.

According to minutes of that hearing prepared by county Board of Supervisors Clerk Pamela Wright, only seven residents signed up to speak and not one voiced opposition to the target-shooting ban.

The ban does not apply to properly licensed seasonal hunters in the preserve who adhere to New York State hunting laws.

Fillion said county supervisors should be made aware of the “weaponry” being used, lamenting the “trees that have been shot down, cut down, mowed down.”

Kempton Place property owner Bill Morris said he supports the county ban due to the significant amount of development that has occurred near the nature preserve. He also faulted target shooters for routinely leaving bullet shell casings behind.  

Ted Van De Ven, a Cedarcrest Drive resident, indicated that he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—the one that prevents federal lawmakers from infringing upon the rights of Americans to purchase and possess guns.

Still, Van De Ven said, he “couldn’t even believe that it was legal” for people to shoot targets on the land north of Louden Road in Wilton.  

“Go join a gun range. Go do it safe,” he said.

Sally Gangell, another Carlyle Terrace resident, also called the situation “a living hell” that makes many local dogs uneasy.

On the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 19, a woman walking her little dog in the preserve said she had neither seen nor heard target shooters that day. She explained that they usually become active later in the afternoon. Like Fillion, she also noted how their bullets have felled numerous trees through the years.

“These people that are out there target shooting, they’ve got no regard for anyone but themselves,” offered Alan Kindl, a military veteran and resident of Ingersoll Road, at the Nov. 15 public hearing. “This goes on in the morning and all day long. All we hear is constant shooting and I don’t know if they are too cheap to just go join a range or what.

“It’s gotten to the point now where I’m not a big advocate of legislating common sense, but I think that’s what we have here,” Kindl concluded.

[Readers are encouraged to post respectful comments regarding the article below.]

Tuesday, 21 November 2017 21:02

Prime Parking Now at Ellsworth Commons

Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com

MALTA – A yearlong effort by the town supervisor to promote more parking spaces has produced results at Ellsworth Commons, a prominent mixed-use commercial and residential plaza on Route 9.

Earlier this month, work crews hired by Ellsworth Commons eliminated grassy areas at the edge of Route 9 to create nearly 30 additional parking spaces in front of the two most visible buildings at the plaza.

Malta Supervisor Vincent DeLucia said the minor road construction followed a lobbying effort on his part that started in late 2016.

“I kept insisting that the owners of Ellsworth Commons” do the work, he said, “even though I didn’t have the authority or control.”

The original site plans for Ellsworth Commons included the same parking spaces but were ultimately modified to include the grassy areas instead, according to DeLucia.

The state Department of Transportation (DOT) has authority over projects on roads such as Route 9.  

DeLucia said the DOT’s approval of the project is at least partially connected to the Town of Malta’s wider effort to reduce speed limits.

The Malta town complex is located directly across from Ellsworth Commons. Currently, the area speed limit is 30 m.p.h., but many drivers travel much faster than that as they either enter or leave a 45 m.p.h. zone only a short distance to the north.  

Ellsworth Commons offers 70,000 square feet of retail space and more than 300 apartments. Yet some local residents have questioned town leaders about longstanding problems with commercial vacancy rates at the plaza.

DeLucia said that apartments in Ellsworth Commons have “the highest percentage of rentals” due to the proximity of GlobalFoundries. 

A call to Ellsworth Commons for comment was not returned.

For more information, visit the website http://ellsworthcommons.info/

Kate Walsh and Max Yurenda pose last week near a photo of Double H Ranch founders Charles Wood and Paul Newman. Photo by Larry Goodwin. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – On the night of Thursday, Nov. 16, tall outdoor flame heaters and about a dozen valet parking attendants in red jackets were enlivening Broadway in front of the newly remodeled Adelphi Hotel. The valets were on guard for the arrivals of well-dressed supporters of the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne.

A fundraiser for Double H Ranch had been organized in the Adelphi Hotel’s spacious ballroom as much to celebrate the hotel’s recent renovation, as it was to reflect on the nearly 25 years in which hundreds of children have found new friends and a welcoming staff at the Lake Luzerne facility.  

The nonprofit Double H Ranch, founded by philanthropist Charles R. Wood and the late actor Paul Newman, provides summer camp experiences and year-round activities free of charge to children with serious health problems. Its doors first opened in 1993, on the Fourth of July holiday.

Max Yurenda, the executive director and CEO of Double H Ranch, excitedly greeted supporters as they arrived in the Adelphi Hotel’s main lobby. Yurenda was pleased to announce the start of a “long-term partnership” with the hotel for similar events.

Kate Walsh, the Double H Ranch sales and communications director, reported that 175 people had signed up for the Nov. 16 fundraiser.

According to a statement provided by Rubenstein Public Relations, ticket prices ranged from $125 for young professionals (30 and under) to $175 for general admission. Guests enjoyed multiple dishes and desserts prepared by the Adelphi Hotel’s “culinary team,” as well as the music of Garland Nelson’s Soul Session.

Separately, staff at the Double H Ranch are organizing a “Camper Holiday Party” on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the nonprofit’s main location, 97 Hidden Valley Road in Lake Luzerne.

On Wednesday, Dec. 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., there also will be a viewing of a new documentary film at Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas, located at 19 Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs. The film is titled “Double H Ranch—Magic Happens Here.”

Tickets are limited for the documentary viewing and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  

For more information, visit the website https://www.doublehranch.org/

Tuesday, 21 November 2017 20:30

U.S. Navy Rail Work Begins

BALLSTON SPA – On Nov. 12, work crews began upgrading idled train tracks in the village that will be used for large shipments of materials for the U.S. Navy’s Kesselring training facility in West Milton.

Gene Terwilliger, a spokesman for the Naval Nuclear Laboratory, indicated by email that the rail work is scheduled to continue until Friday, Dec. 15, affecting tracks on either side of Eastern Avenue.

An additional two-day project to upgrade the Eastern Avenue crossing is expected in spring 2018, but Terwilliger said no firm dates have been set.   

In concert with village, county and state workers, Navy officials are preparing to receive shipments from Canadian Pacific Railroad related to a refueling of the S8G nuclear submarine prototype at Kesselring.

Since the 1950s, more than 50,000 U.S. Navy personnel have been trained at the West Milton facility. A separate, $180 million project will involve the installation of a new high-tech simulator of a submarine engine room by 2022.    

Thursday, 16 November 2017 23:08

Future Houses on the Hill Under Scrutiny

A view down Cedar Bluff Road in Saratoga; and the Saratoga Planning Board after its Nov. 13, 2017 workshop. Photos by Larry Goodwin. 

SCHUYLERVILLE – Saratoga town officials and a large group of area homeowners are focusing intently on a proposed 100-acre housing subdivision that would offer premium views of Saratoga Lake.

For two years, the proposal to build 32 homes on either side of Cedar Bluff Road has been promoted by the Saratoga Springs developer Witt Construction.

The plan involves three separate parcels of land not far from the lake, according to Libby Coreno, an attorney from the Saratoga Springs firm Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Maloney and Laird. Coreno represents Witt Construction in the town’s review process.

Cedar Bluff Road connects to Route 9P on the northeastern part of Saratoga Lake. The first mile of the roadway—where Witt Construction would build the homes—is notable for a steep incline, sharp turns and the surrounding dense forest.   

On Oct. 25, Coreno arranged a detailed presentation of the project for Town of Saratoga Planning Board members and answered numerous questions. Minutes of that meeting indicate that Witt Construction would adhere to a “no build” line on the western edge of the site, avoiding terrain that slopes down toward Saratoga Lake. 

Coreno said the developer is also planning to preserve two large wooded areas as open space, totaling more than 50 acres. 

On Monday night, the planning board invited Coreno and her associate to a formal workshop regarding the Witt Construction proposal. In attendance were about 20 town residents, who were allowed to be present at the workshop but not to speak.

The planning board members are adhering to requirements set forth in the state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) as they prepare to vote on the proposal.  

A negative SEQRA determination by the planning board would indicate that environmental impacts from the project do not warrant further study. A positive determination would impose substantial costs on Witt Construction for several months of additional study. 

“Those of us who have been closely following this subdivision strongly believe that a positive declaration is required,” wrote Saratoga resident John Cashin, in a Nov. 9 email sent to a long list of other recipients. “The proposed development has so many insufficiently mitigated impacts that a negative declaration would not be in the long-term best interests of the community.”  

Among other issues, according to Cashin, the project’s potential impact on Route 9P traffic, storm-water runoff, groundwater and tree removal have not been thoroughly studied.

“Despite all of these open items, the Planning Board is taking this development to a premature SEQR determination stage and may make a decision based on merely oral, unbinding commitments of the developer,” Cashin concluded. “Such a determination places our community at undue risk and should be vigorously opposed.”

At the Nov. 13 workshop, Saratoga Planning Board Chairman Ian Murray guided the other board members in reading through a detailed list of SEQRA questions.

At least two issues that Cashin mentioned in his email (storm runoff and digging wells for water to supply the new homes) were repeatedly discussed by the board, and acknowledged as sticking points.  

“We’re taking a hard look at it,” Murray said. He added that the “clock will start” when the planning board votes on either a negative or positive SEQRA determination.

A formal public hearing would be scheduled within 60 days of that vote.

The board did not plan to vote on the Cedar Bluff Road project at its regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 15, according to Town Clerk Linda McCabe.  

Tom Yannios, a homeowner who attended the Monday night meeting, said afterward that his big concerns are the tree removal and the potential for adverse impacts on the water quality of Saratoga Lake.

He explained that Saratoga town code prohibits large-scale tree cutting on hilly terrain. “The elephant in the room here wasn’t even addressed,” Yannios said.

Coreno responded that her client is well aware of that town code.

“We have to be in conformance,” she said. 

[Readers are encouraged to post respectful comments regarding the article below.]  

Thursday, 16 November 2017 23:05

New Floral Business Opens on Broadway

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Sidney Martin says he is ready for a new phase of the floral arrangement journey that he started years ago in Los Angeles.

“I’m just really looking forward to bringing my talent to Saratoga,” Martin confessed this week, during a tour of his Park Place shop. It is located below ground level at 268 Broadway, one door to the right of Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness.

Martin said he wants to bring “the beauty of what I do on a daily basis to individuals who think that flowers are just flowers. They’re so much more than that.”

A ribbon-cutting event was scheduled on Friday, Nov. 17 to mark the grand opening of Martin’s Simply Sidney Floral Design and Home Accents. From 5 to 9 p.m., members of the public are invited to formally celebrate Martin’s arrival as a city business owner.

At the outset, Martin says he already has made arrangements to employ four or five people on a part-time basis and that he may need “a few more hands” when the bridal season arrives next spring.

Multiple types of decorative home furnishing items will be available for retail purchase in his shop. Martin said he would offer “a mix of new and inventive” products that will “constantly be refreshed.” He was excited to show bars of soap that “look like gems” made by a company in Oneonta.

Whenever possible, Martin added, he will aim to support local producers. “We’ve all got to support each other or else it’s just not worth it,” he said.

Clearly, though, floral arrangements will be Martin’s bread and butter. The back half of his shop is walled off as a space for the large metal tables and a flower cooler that define his main production area.  

Saratoga Springs is “definitely a prime market for florists,” offered Rich Coogan, a sales representative and cut-flower buyer for the wholesale Bill Doran Company in Albany. Martin gets most of his flowers from the Bill Doran Co.

Coogan called Martin “an extraordinary designer,” adding that the wholesaler plans to help him be “as successful as he can be.”

Originally from a small town in northeast Georgia, Martin explained that his passion for flowers was related to the fact that his grandmother and mother are “huge gardeners.”

In his youth, Martin was fond of producing artistic sketches and paintings of flowers. Then, as he pursued various different work opportunities, Martin eventually met a man who revealed to him “the meat and potatoes” of the floral arrangement industry.

In 2000, Martin relocated to California and “really started coming into my own,” staying there for 11 years. Every new opportunity elevated his experience, he said, and the “creativity” of the numerous designers he worked for further bolstered his interest in the wider floral industry.

The highlights of his time in California include producing floral displays for popular films and television series, such as “Princess Diaries,” “Legally Blonde 2,” “Spider Man 2,” “The West Wing,” “Desperate Housewives” and “The Office.”  

For three years, Martin also prepared displays for the Golden Globes, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Hollywood Film Festival.

Yet Los Angeles “gets really heavy,” Martin said. “After 11 years of being there I was just burned out.”

Martin explained that his husband, public relations specialist Tas Steiner, hails from Loudonville, which brought the couple to the Capital Region for family visits or recreational excursions to lakes and the Saratoga Race Course.

“There was something about Saratoga that I just loved,” Martin said. The couple eventually agreed to rent property on Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs.

Steiner worked closely with Tracy Strann, the former chief marketing officer for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, who started her own public relations firm this year.

Strann conducts media outreach for Simply Sidney Floral Design and other popular city businesses, including the newly renovated Adelphi Hotel.  

Martin, though busily making his final arrangements for the Nov. 17 ribbon cutting, was eager to open his new Broadway shop.  

“Yeah,” he said, “it just seems like this is the perfect little spot for my first foray into the business world.” 

[Readers are encouraged to post respectful comments regarding the article below.]  

Max Oswald in his Saratoga Brewing tap room. Photo by Larry Goodwin. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Max Oswald said this week that his dedication to producing quality beer is matched by his penchant for giving back to the community. The holidays provide ample opportunity for him to make the best of both worlds through a program called “Toys for Toga.”  

Either cash or new, unwrapped toys can be donated at participating businesses for the annual charity drive. It brought in 3,000 toys and $10,000 last year, according to Oswald, the owner of Saratoga Brewing Company on Excelsior Avenue. 

“That, to me, shows the depth of support in town,” he said. “That’s always been our thing.” The proceeds directly support programs at the Franklin Community Center, CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services and the Mechanicville Area Community Center.

Local bars and restaurants display a cardboard box with the Toys for Toga logo, and for every donation they place small cards that say “helping kids in our community.” Those who wish to donate also can purchase Toys for Toga mugs from Saratoga Brewing. 

On Tuesday, Oswald was joined in his on-site tap room by a lively group of people including Talia Cass of the city’s Convention and Tourism Bureau, as well as MacKenzie Zarzycki and other staff members of DeCrescente Distributing in Mechanicville.

They had gathered to announce an early start of the Toys for Toga drive as a means to finalize the process before Christmas. There were two other “surprises,” Oswald said.   

He hopes a “Warehouse Roller Disco” event that is being organized from 2 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2 will boost contributions to the Toys for Toga drive this year (see flyer in photo gallery). It will include live music by the North and South Dakotas and roller skating in the Saratoga Brewing warehouse. He said Tap Room Manager Meg Thompson devised the idea after finding a company that rents skates. 

Oswald also reached an agreement with a city candy shop to produce a new beer called Peppermint Pig Stout, whose sales in local establishments would further direct attention to the Toys for Toga charity. The flavor will be available from Friday, Dec. 1 until supplies last, according to Oswald.  

For more information, visit the website https://www.oldesaratogabrew.com/


 

 

Thursday, 16 November 2017 22:25

Leaders See Too Many Speeders in Wilton

WILTON – Councilman Steve Streicher closed the town board’s November meeting by voicing his concerns about speedy drivers in Wilton’s residential areas.

“It happens all the time. I’m just worried that someone’s going to get hit by a car,” the father of two said. Streicher added that he is often disturbed enough by aggressive drivers to “chase them down,” even though he refrains from actually doing so.

The Wilton Town Board proceeded to briefly discuss lowering speed limits on town roads, much like officials in Malta are planning to do at present.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed a state law enabling Malta to lower speed limits, but the process still requires complicated traffic studies at the town level. 

Bryan Viggiani, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said Wilton officials could lower speed limits on town roads only if they find “a legislative sponsor” in the same manner as Malta officials and secure passage of a separate state law.  

The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office handles traffic law enforcement in Wilton, which does not have its own police force. A request for comment specific to the town was not returned by the sheriff’s office.

At the Nov. 9 meeting, Wilton Highway Superintendent Kirklin Woodcock expressed his concern to the town board that there are “entrapment” issues related to reducing speed limits in residential areas.

“A lot of these residents get misconceptions with what the town of Malta is doing,” Woodcock said, when contacted for comment this week. He argued that reducing a speed limit from 45 to 30 m.p.h. can be “confusing to the motorist.” 

Woodcock said he has observed many speeders, in particular, on Waller and Worth Roads. But not “every road in the town” is affected by serious problems, he added.

“My work crews are exposed every day, and it’s getting worse, not better,” Woodcock said. “They’ll blow your pants-leg right off.”

If even one “flagman” gets injured or killed by the actions of speeders, according to Woodcock, that is one too many. 

[Readers are encouraged to post respectful comments regarding the article below.]  

Friday, 10 November 2017 15:40

City Woman Wins County Supervisor Seat

Saratoga Springs Supervisor-elect Tara Gaston. Photo provided. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – As Democrats crowded around a projection screen inside The Inn at Saratoga Tuesday night, there were occasional cheers among the supporters of city attorney Tara Gaston. Eventually, they gave way to tight hugs and shouts of joy.

In recent months, Gaston had enlisted the help of her husband, Shafer, a U.S. Navy veteran, to run a campaign for one of two seats representing the city on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. It was the couple’s first attempt to enter a political race.

Shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday, it was clear that Gaston had earned the support of more than 3,800 voters, second only to Supervisor Matthew Veitch’s 4,524 votes. She expressed confidence that result would withstand the tally of more than 700 absentee ballots in the city.

“I’m looking forward to bringing in some new blood and some new ideas” and “moving the board forward,” Gaston said, as the Democrats inside The Inn’s banquet room celebrated her own and multiple other electoral victories.

Gaston and Patricia Friesen were among a slate of 12 women candidates—in races from Milton to Wilton—whose campaigns were highlighted by the recently formed group Saratoga Unites. Three of those candidates achieved electoral success, including Gaston, Mayor-elect Meg Kelly and City Court Judge-elect Francine Vero.

Friesen finished a close third in the city supervisor contest, behind Veitch and Gaston, by earning more than 3,600 votes.

On Oct. 24, during a Saratoga Unites “March to the Polls” forum held in the H. Dutcher Community Room at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, Gaston said her main goal is “putting sunlight on the board of supervisors.”

Gaston told the audience of about 50 people that she supports conducting a thorough review of the $320 million county budget to find out “where to save money.”

Lois Shapiro-Canter, a Saratoga Springs attorney, moderated the Oct. 24 forum. She said the members of Saratoga Unites would aim to endorse “progressive-minded women who want to preserve the rights that have been secured.”

In an email that detailed how many women occupy local offices at present, Shafer Gaston reported that there is only one woman among 23 Saratoga County supervisors.

“Women are tired of always being put in the back seat,” Shapiro-Canter said. “We have a whole new generation of women who are used to the rights they have.”

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Blotter

  • COURT Paul J. Sims, 26, of Stillwater, was sentenced Nov. 29 to 16 months-to-4 years, and 1.5-to-5 years in state prison, after pleading, respectively, to felony DWI in connection with an incident in Malta, and criminal mischief in Saratoga Springs.  Nicholas L. Moon, 28, of South Glens Falls, pleaded Nov. 30 to felony DWI, in connection with an incident in Saratoga Springs. Sentencing  scheduled Feb. 1, 2018. Jared M. Tenace, 27, of Schenectady, was sentenced Dec. 1 to 1.5 to 3 years in state prison, after pleading to criminal possession of stolen property, a felony.   POLICE  Brian F. Egan,…

Property Transactions

  • BALLSTON SPA 1443 Route 50, $600,000. New York Development Group Kensington LLC sold property to Kensington Court Apartments LLC. 70 Lake Rd., $498,000. Bretton and Erica Adams sold property to Wei Huang. TOWN OF BALLSTON  6 Van Vorst Dr., $209,000. Mary Nixon sold property to Charles Fernandez and Kim Vo.  3 Kaleen Dr., $360,000. David and Danielle Donnelly sold property to Andrea Stankovic.  936 State Route 67, $221,500. Jason Serra sold property to Jason and Stephanie Savaria.  CHARLTON 1403 Cosgrove Dr., $481,452. Bordeau Builders Inc. sold property to Daniel and Vikki Mazzone. CLIFTON PARK 92 Balsam Way, $460,190. Heritage Builders…
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